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Ultimate Guide to Hit and Run Accidents in California

Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving personal injuries is a hit-and-run, and it’s a crime anywhere in California. Victims are left to deal with severe injuries along with the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the fleeing driver. At Maison Law, we provided dedicated legal representation of the highest quality to victims of hit-and-run crashes anywhere in California.

Contact a California Hit-And-Run Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Hit-and-run drivers can leave their victims facing a lengthy and difficult rehabilitation. The victims will feel completely alone as they start to receive bills from doctors and hospitals for their care.

If you or a family member are in this tragic situation, please contact Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law.  He can earn you compensation for your hardships no matter the circumstances. If a hit-and-run driver is eventually arrested Mr. Gasparian can begin the process of demanding compensation from the driver’s insurance company.

If the driver isn’t found, Mr. Gasparian can switch gears and file a claim against your own car insurance policy. No matter what car insurance company is called upon, Maison Law works to make sure victims have what they need to rebuild their lives. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation on your hit-and-run case.

Hit-And-Run Dangers on California Roads

According to ValuePenguin research, the U.S. saw fatal hit-and-run accident rates take a dramatic leap over the course of a decade. In 2010, the fatal incidents across the country stood at 1,342 accidents.  By 2019, the cases had risen to nearly 2,000 fatal accidents. The number of total deaths in these cases rose by around 44% in just 10 years.

Unfortunately, California goes down as the state with the most fatal hit-and-runs over that 10-year-span. California accounted for an astounding 17% of fatal crashes in the U.S. For the decade, The Golden State documented 3,056 victims who lost their lives in crashes involving a driver leaving the scene.

It’s a dangerous trend in every California city. The California Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) recorded over 5,500 felony hit-and-run cases involving injury in 2021 in Los Angeles County. Those incidents led to 121 deaths. By comparison, Fresno County saw 227 hit-and-run felony cases with 13 tragic deaths for the year. San Francisco reported 576 incidents with injury leading to 12 tragic deaths.

California Law and Hit and Run Accidents

Obviously, hit and run accidents pose serious threats to the safety of every driver in California. In response, California law has taken lengths to punish those that commit them. Specifically, Sections 2001 and 2002 of the California Vehicle Code outlines the legal responsibilities of every driver in California-and the penalties when they fail to follow these laws. Under the law, drivers have three primary responsibilities when they are involved in an accident that has  caused damage or injuries:

  • The driver must immediately stop their vehicle.
  • The driver must provide the other party with their name and address.
  • The driver must provide their driver’s license and car registration if requested.

With this law, a driver is legally required to stop and provide information when they cause an accident. It’s important to understand that even a minor amount of damage requires the driver to exchange or leave personal identifying information.

Why Do Hit and Run Accidents Happen in California?

Hit and run accidents can have huge ramifications not only for the person who is injured, but the other driver as well. Every accident is different, but hit and run accidents are unique in that they involve the willful fleeing of the accident scene by the person that caused the accident. While this is certainly frustrating for the injured person, it may be helpful to look at some common underlying factors of why hit and run accidents happen:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Falling asleep behind the wheel
  • Invalid driver’s license
  • On probation
  • Pedestrian accident
  • Suspended license
  • Driving without insurance
  • Warrants for arrest

Whatever the reason is for fleeing the scene, hit and run accidents are against the law in California. Thus, they bring with it not only legal punishments, but someone is still liable for any injuries or damages to your vehicle.

However, the main problem with a hit and run accident is the difficulty in tracking down the driver. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, getting to safety should be your first priority.  After that, though, there are actions you can take to make sure you are compensated for your losses.

Taking Action After a California Hit-And-Run Accident

The choice to leave an accident scene often leaves injured victims waiting on critical medical attention. This can include defenseless pedestrians and cyclists who may suffer severe injuries in the most minor of collisions with a vehicle.

This thoughtless act also allows the costs of recovery and other hardships to fall on the victim and the victim’s family. Victims may feel they have no way to seek justice if a hit-and-run driver remains unidentified, but they may still secure compensation.

It’s important to discuss your case with a California Car Accident Lawyer to determine what kind of support you’ll need and where you’ll be able to secure financial help.

Common Hit-and-Run Accident Injuries in California

When the occupants of two vehicles are involved in a hit-and-run accident, injuries might range from minor to severe and permanent. They might include:

  • Whiplash
  • Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Lacerations
  • Burns
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Back strains

When vulnerable and unprotected bicyclists and pedestrians are involved in hit-and-run accidents, injuries are usually more severe. Those injuries can include open and penetrating skull fractures, fractured vertebrae and ribs, damage to internal organs, rib and hip fractures, and arm and leg fractures. These are the types of injuries that are often permanent.

The amount on a settlement check becomes very important to the victim and to the victims family members. A serious injury could linger long after a trip to the emergency room. It may affect the victim’s ability to work and enjoy life for years to come. These possible outcomes must factor into any hit-and-run insurance settlement offer.

Your California hit-and-run accident lawyer would make sure you didn’t accept an offer that left you paying for your own physical therapy bills in a year. Your lawyer would send a “lowball” offer back to the insurance adjuster and demand more.

Finding Insurance Compensation for Victims After a California Hit-And-Run

Hit-and-run accident victims and their families may feel powerless after a hit-and-run accident. It may seem hopeless that victims will secure fair compensation to help pay for all of their hardships when a hit-and-run driver remains unidentified.

But victims and their families have options under California law to seek financial support even if a hit-and-run victim is never brought to justice.

These are the two usual directions a California hit-and-run injury claim can take:

  • Hit-And-Run Driver Arrested – Once the at-fault driver is apprehended, a civil claim for damages can be filed on behalf of a recovering victim or a grieving family. An injury claim or a wrongful death claim can be filed immediately against the driver’s car insurance company. The hit-and-run suspect will face a criminal trial, but the civil claim can proceed and get settled separately.


  • Hit-And-Run Driver Escapes Responsibility – In the most heartbreaking cases, a hit-and-run suspect is never located. But victims and families still have paths to recovering injury support. Money for hospital bills, funeral costs, and other damages could be secured in a claim filed against the victim’s own car insurance policy. The claim would call upon the uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist part of the policy. If victims didn’t have this coverage, it’s important to check if the victim was covered by a family member’s car insurance plan.

It’s critical to note that even when dealing with your own car insurance provider, you’ll still have to stay on your guard. Your own insurance representative will still try to limit the support you and your family receive.

Who Pays For My Damages After a California Hit and Run Accident?

Hit and run accidents are unique from other car accidents in that you may need to pay all hospital bills and other financial damages, especially if you’re never able to locate the other driver and determine their insurance coverage. Because your costs could come out of your own pocket, all over a crash you weren’t to blame for, it’s important to understand what auto policy you have and how it responds to hit and run accidents.

Since your compensation depends on the policy limits and coverage of your auto policy, let’s look at some minimum coverage requirements for any California driver that will pay compensation. This coverage includes:

  • Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage – California drivers must carry at least $15,000 per person, $30,000 for more than one person, and at least $5,000 per accident in UM property damage coverage. In a hit and run accident, the other driver is considered uninsured, so you can turn to your UM insurance policy for compensation after a hit and run accident.
  • Collision coverage – This coverage pays for accidental damage to your vehicle, no matter who was at fault. Collision coverage is usually the most expensive type of auto insurance, but it can pay for any damage to your vehicle.
  • Medical payments (MedPay) coverage – This coverage can pay for immediate medical care for you or the passengers, no matter who is at fault. The minimum limit you can buy is $1,000 for each person injured, but higher limits of coverage are available.

In the event that you don’t have auto coverage, you could turn to your health insurance coverage. However, this won’t pay for any vehicle damage. While this is not an ideal situation, working with an experienced California hit and run lawyer can help make sure you receive the maximum available compensation, either through an insurance claim or a lawsuit.

Damages in California Hit-and-Run Crashes

In a minority of cases, police eventually locate a hit-and-run driver. If that driver can’t be found, there is no target defendant, and the injured victim or surviving family members of a decedent are left without an opportunity to seek compensation for their damages.

That’s the purpose of uninsured motorist insurance. When a victim of an accident who has uninsured motorist insurance is injured or dies from injuries suffered in a crash that was caused by a hit-and-run driver, that victim or the decedent’s surviving family can pursue compensation for damages like the following:

  • Past and future medical bills.
  • Past and future lost earnings.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Any permanent disfigurement or disability.
  • Diminished enjoyment of life.
  • Funeral and burial costs in the event of a wrongful death along with other substantial damages.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do I Have to file a hit-and-run accident claim in California?

Two years. You’ll have two years to file an injury claim or a wrongful death claim over a hit-and-run accident. It’s important to act quickly because evidence can disappear and witnesses can be hard to find as time passes.

Do I need a California Hit-and-Run Attorney after an accident?

Yes. If your accident involves a serious injury you will probably benefit from having a hit-and-run attorney. Whether you file a claim against your insurance or the suspect’s insurance, you’ll need legal protection.

Do I have to wait for a hit-and-run criminal trial before I can sue a hit-and-run driver?

No. Your civil injury claim and the criminal proceedings will happen separately. Once a hit-and-run suspect is identified, you may immediately file an insurance claim and secure compensation for your accident.

Contact the Experienced California Hit and Run Lawyers at Maison Law Today

After being seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver, you might believe that you won’t have an opportunity to pursue compensation for your damages. You’re not necessarily out of options, especially if you or a member of your family who was a resident of your household carried uninsured motorist insurance.

This isn’t a simple insurance claim with your own insurance company though. That’s because your insurance company knows that it’s in for big financial exposure. You’re likely to be treated with suspicion and disdain.

At Maison Law, we have extensive experience in the representation of clients in a wide variety of uninsured motorist claims and lawsuits. If you are an injured victim of an accident that was caused by a hit-and-run driver anywhere in California, contact us, and we’ll arrange for a free consultation and case review.

Upon learning about what happened and how it happened, we’ll be pleased to answer your questions and advise you on any legal options that you may have. You might still be eligible for compensation for your damages.

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