Los Angeles Hit and Run Accident Guide
Hit-and-run accidents have been an out-of-control issue in Los Angeles for quite some time now. By one count, Los Angeles leads the entire nation in hit-and-run accidents. Each year somewhere around half of all Los Angeles car collisions involve a driver leaving the scene.
Hit and run accident victims and their families also face financial hardships due to the expensive costs of the victim’s recovery or death.
Fortunately, there is financial support available for victims and close relatives even if a Los Angeles hit-and-run driver isn’t identified. Talking to a Los Angeles hit and run accident attorney can help you identify all of your possible options. The attorneys at Maison Law in Los Angeles will gladly provide you with a free consultation so that you can fully understand California’s hit and run protections.
What Is Considered a Hit-And-Run Accident in California?
A hit-and-run is an accident where a driver hits a person, object, or vehicle and intentionally leaves the scene without providing identifying information and insurance coverage information.
Under California law, drivers causing an accident that involves an injury are also responsible for providing reasonable care to victims. They are required to assist victims in seeking medical attention and to alert the local police department or The California Highway Patrol. A failure to perform these duties is considered a hit-and-run violation.
Perpetrators can face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit over their actions. Victims injured by a hit-and-run driver’s mistake
Hit-And-Run Accident Statistics in Los Angeles
Los Angeles Hit-and-Run incidents make the local news networks almost every night. And the plague of this avoidance of responsibility has gained national attention. While highlighting a decade of hit-and-run accident statistics, ValuePenguin documented that California accounted for 17% of the nation’s fatal hit-and-run incidents. That made California far-and-away the top state for hit-and-run accidents, trailed by Texas at 12%.
Over 11 ½ months of 2021, Crosstown found there were 336 felony hit-and-runs in Los Angeles. Those accidents all resulted in serious injury or a fatality. That number was well above the 272 felony cases recorded in 2020 over the same span. The numbers are part of a steady increase that’s been monitored over at least five years.
Curbed Los Angeles also found that the city recorded more than 100,000 hit-and-run cases over a four-year span. Fewer than 16,000 hit-and-run drivers were arrested over that period.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, in a single year, LAPD only identifies and arrest suspects in around 8% of the city’s hit-and-run cases. This sad reality leaves a lot of victims paying for their medical care out of their own pocket. What’s more, many families have no real way to reach closure after a fatal accident.
Whether a suspect is caught in your case or not, a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer is often able to secure vital financial support for victims and their close relatives.
Free Consultation for Los Angeles Hit and Run Victims
Los Angeles accident victims have direct access to injury support after a crash involving a hit-and-run driver. The families who have lost a loved one in a hit-and-run accident also have benefits available to them even if the offending driver is never located.
To find out how to seek support from an at-fault driver’s insurance provider, or in some cases, your own car insurance company, you should talk with a skilled Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer. Contact Maison Law of Southern California for a free, no-risk case consultation. Tell us what happened to you or a family member so that we can help you determine the best way to secure the support you need to rebuild your life.
What Should I Do After a Los Angeles Hit-And-Run Accident?
You’ll want to secure as much evidence as possible proving your innocence in an accident. You’ll also work to show a hit-and-run driver was at-fault and neglected to remain on the scene. Your Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of your case, but the best evidence will be found on the scene in the moments after a hit-and-run collision.
Try to secure these important details if you are struck as a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorist or if your car is hit while parked:
- Call 911 – Request an ambulance response no matter how minor you think your injuries are. Have every injury checked out and take a ride to the emergency room if necessary.
- Jot Down What You Saw – Once help is on the way and you are well enough, you should note what you remember about the hit-and-run driver and vehicle. You can forget what a car looked like as your adrenaline builds in the wake of a major accident.
- Give Details to Responding Officers – Tell investigators everything you remember about what happened. Alert them to any parts that you saw fall off the offender’s vehicle. They’ll create an accident report that should serve as evidence to build your case around. Those officers are also your best hope of tracking down the responsible driver.
- Get Photos of the Scene – Document the scene. Show the damage to your car, your personal property, and any visible injuries. Also, show all traffic signs and lane markings involved. Check for security cameras on businesses or mounted over parking lots in the area.
- Talk to Witnesses – Get contact information so your Los Angeles Hit-And-Run Accident Lawyer can secure testimony later. If you return to your parked car and find it was hit, check in businesses and at surrounding homes to see if anyone observed what happened.
- Keep and Preserve All Evidence – Don’t wash or throw out your bloody clothing. Save your damaged property. If you were hit on a bike, keep your damaged bike as evidence.
- Make An Appointment with Your Physician – Get all injuries documented. Keep all invoices.
- Contact Your Insurance Provider. You’ll want to keep your insurance agent up to date on what’s happened. This is an important step when you could have to call upon your own insurance coverage if a hit-and-run driver is never brought to justice.
- Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer – Whether dealing with your own insurance adjusters or the adjusters for the at-fault driver, they’ll immediately go to work trying to limit the injury support you receive. A car insurance representative will attempt to get a recorded statement from you so they can twist those words to hurt your case. They can try to blame you for a collision. They may also downplay how serious your injury is. Your attorney with Maison Law is your protection against these tactics meant to rob you of support. Your attorney will tell you how much your injury is really worth and then fight to get full compensation for every hardship you’ve endured. You should schedule your free consultation as soon as possible.
Reporting Your Los Angeles Hit-And-Run Accident to the California DMV
You’ll also have to report your accident to the DMV. This is necessary in accidents that have property damage exceeding $1000 and in collisions involving an injury or death. You have 10 days to fill out an SR-1 form.
Your investigating officer will not do this for you. If you’ve hired an attorney right after your accident, your Los Angeles car accident lawyer can file this report for you.
What Can I Get Paid for in a Los Angeles Hit-And-Run Claim?
When your Los Angeles Hit-And-Run Lawyer has a strong case prepared, it’s time to submit an accident claim to the appropriate insurance providers. This claim contains a through list of every damage you’ve suffered since your accident.
This will include economic and non-economic damages and a few hardships you’ve endured that you may not have considered:
- Medical Bills. Current bills and medical costs expected in the future.
- Physical therapy treatment and the cost of specialized equipment.
- The estimates on the support needed over a lifetime for a lifelong injury or permanent disability.
- Physical Pain. The effects chronic pain has had on the victim’s life. This is a non-economic damage that must be placed in monetary terms.
- Emotional Anguish. Another non-economic damage that can affect a victim’s life as much as a physical injury. The anxiety and depression after a hit-and-run accident could be a tremendous obstacle to recovery.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of consortium (intimacy with a spouse).
- Lost income from work. Including the time you are expected to miss in the future.
- Travel costs when visiting doctors and out-of-area specialists. Transportation costs are enormous when you can’t drive and must stay off your feet.
California Car Accident Injury Claims Process
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim Over a Los Angeles Hit-And-Run Accident?
California grants the victim of personal injury accidents (accidents caused by someone else’s negligence) up to two years to file an injury lawsuit. You have up to three years from the date of the hit-and-run accident to file a claim over property damage.
It’s important not to wait months or years to speak with a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer. Your lawyer will have an easier time securing evidence and keeping track of important witnesses the sooner you alert your lawyer to your accident. Filing as soon as possible could also mean that you’ll reach an insurance settlement agreement faster and receive a check sooner.
Can I File a Claim If the Hit and Run Driver Is Found?
When there’s positive news and a hit-and-run suspect is apprehended, the victim can immediately take action. The victim or a family member of the victim would file a claim for damages targeting the at-fault driver’s car insurance coverage.
The driver will likely be preparing a defense against criminal charges, but the victim’s civil claim will proceed separately. The victim or the victim’s family may earn a settlement check no matter where the criminal case stands.
Can I File a Claim If the Hit and Run Driver Is NOT Found?
If a hit-and-run motorist eludes identification, victims and their family members have several options for earning property damage and injury support.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is included in most insurance policies, but it isn’t mandatory in California. Drivers can decline the coverage in writing when signing up for a policy. If injured victims have car insurance or if they are covered on a family member’s policy, filing a claim against their own policy is possible.
This policy will provide support for injuries and property damage up to the limits of the policy. It’s important to remember that your own agent is still an insurance employee. This means they will still try to limit the compensation you receive. Having a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer negotiating for a fair settlement makes sure you aren’t robbed of compensation by your own insurer.
PIP or Med-Pay Coverage
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) also known as Med-Pay is also optional in California. They provide coverage for the policyholder’s medical care no matter who is at-fault in an accident.
Health Insurance After a Los Angeles Hit-And-Run Accident
If you can’t call upon a hit-and-run driver’s car insurance policy for financial support, you can still cover your injuries through your health insurance policy. You would still have to pay the deductibles on your health insurance.
Utilizing your health insurance may be necessary even if a hit-and-run driver is arrested and has car insurance. You may be in line for an injury settlement, but your hospital bills could come due well beforehand. Your health insurance provider would pay doctors and physical therapists, but they’d want that money back if you received settlement money.
Collision Coverage After a Hit-And-Run Accident
Collision coverage is not required for all drivers in California. If you are paying on a car loan it may be a requirement. You may have also voluntarily signed up for the additional coverage.
Collision generally covers the cost of vehicle damage repairs when policyholders cause their own accident. However, it can provide repair or replacement money for your vehicle after a hit-and-run incident.
Can Family Members File Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Hit-And-Run Accident?
Yes. A grieving family can protect themselves from financial hardships by filing a wrongful death claim. A spouse or domestic partner of the victim may file this civil lawsuit on behalf of the entire family. Children of the deceased or grandchildren of the deceased could also file a wrongful death claim.
This claim would ask the hit-and-run driver’s car insurance company for help with burial costs and aid paying for remaining medical bills. Support could also be supplied to help cover the loss of income the deceased can no longer provide.
When a hit-and-run driver remains on the run, a wrongful death claim filed against the deceased’s own car insurance provider is also possible. When victims did not carry insurance, it’s possible they were covered on another family member’s uninsured motorist policy.
What Our Clients Say
Why Do Hit and Runs Happen So Often?
There’s no one reason drivers leave victims at the scene. It often has to do with avoiding the financial consequences of an accident and/or the legal ramifications.
These are a few of the most common explanations:
- Driver has no license.
- Driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Driver wants to avoid insurance premium hike.
- Driver has outstanding warrants.
- Driver is in shock and makes the wrong decision in the heat of the moment. Some of these drivers leave the scene but later return or report themselves.
What To Do If You Hit a Parked Vehicle in California
California’s legal guidelines are clear for those who accidentally strike an unoccupied car. You may have nicked a bumper in a parking lot or parking garage, or you might have smashed a passenger door on a parked vehicle.
According to California Vehicle Code 20002 VC., you are required to stop somewhere where you aren’t impeding traffic and do one of two things.
- Locate and notify the driver or owner of the car. Upon request, you will present that person with your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance information. This information must feature your current address.
- If no car owner can be found, you’ll leave a note. This note should be left in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or any other damaged property. Your name and address must be included in the note as well as an explanation of what happened. You should also contact the local police department or California Highway Patrol as soon as possible.
Any person failing to comply with these vehicle code directives can be charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run.
Charges and Punishment for California Hit-And-Run Violators
Hit-and-run suspects can only be charged with a misdemeanor in accidents involving only property damage.
If convicted, hit-and-run drivers are punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000. A combination of imprisonment and fines are also possible. These penalties are laid out in California Vehicle Code 20002 VC.
Suspects in an accident involving an injury can be charged with felony hit-and-run. In California, convicted violators would face up to one year in prison or a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. The guilty party could also receive a combination of imprisonment and a fine.
Suspects in an accident involving a permanent injury or the loss of life will face harsher penalties:
Vehicle Code 20001 VC. “…(a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars.”
Los Angeles Reward Program Information for Hit-And-Run Accidents
Los Angeles offers a tiered reward program for information on hit-and-run accidents. Witnesses are asked to come forward with any information that may help in the capture of a hit-and-run driver.
Witnesses may see the accident happen or later see a driver or a vehicle matching a police description. This may be the only way investigators can track down someone responsible for a devastating collision.
The rewards for information are:
- $50,000 for a hit-and run case involving a fatal injury
- $25,000 for a permanent or serious injury
- $5,000 for an injury not permanent or serious
- $1,000 for property damage.
The information must lead to the identification, arrest, and conviction of a suspect in a court of law.
Can I Anonymously Provide Information About a Los Angeles Hit-And-Run?
Residents reporting a hit-and-run suspect can stay protected by choosing to remain anonymous. They may document their information by going to the LA Crime Stoppers website.
Contact a Los Angeles Hit and Run Lawyer
Suffering an injury in a hit-and-run accident may leave you feeling very vulnerable on the scene. You’ll also feel very alone in recovery if the responsible driver continues to escape justice.
You may not be able to count on the hit-and-run driver to contribute to your recovery costs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find support. You may have several insurance providers who should be offering you compensation, but they won’t make it easy to secure that support.
Speak with a skilled Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer to find out what your injury is really worth. Contact Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law, to go over every option available to you and your family. If you feel Mr. Gasparian can help you secure fair treatment from an insurance company, you won’t need any money now. Maison Law doesn’t receive an attorney’s fee unless we win your case.