Los Angeles Hit and Run Accident Attorney
Nobody should ever have to go through the devastating experience of being injured in a collision caused by a hit-and-run driver. Many different parties can sustain severe and deadly injuries in hit-and-run accidents, including motor vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. If you or someone you love got hurt because of a hit-and-run driver’s careless or reckless behavior behind the wheel, an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney can assist you with your case. We can discuss your options with you for seeking compensation, from an auto insurance claim to a civil lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver.
Getting the Facts About Hit-and-Run Collisions in Los Angeles
Hit-and-run accidents have been on the rise recently, and they often result in severe and life-threatening injuries. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety noted that hit-and-run injuries and deaths have been at their highest in recent years, reporting some of the following key facts and figures:
- Since 2006, an average of about 682,000 hit-and-run accidents have occurred every year;
- Since 2009, the total rate of hit-and-run fatalities has risen by an average of more than 7 percent every year;
- More than 2,000 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents in 2016 alone;
- About 65 percent of people who sustain fatal injuries in hit-and-run accidents are not occupants of vehicles, but rather are pedestrians or bicyclists; and
- In the last decade, almost 20 percent of all reported pedestrian accidents were hit-and-run collisions.
States have laws in place that require motorists to stop when they have been involved in an accident. The California Vehicle Code requires drivers to stop, and motorists who are involved in a crash and leave the scene of an accident can face criminal charges.
How Can I Seek Financial Compensation After a Hit-and-Run Crash in Los Angeles?
If you are injured in a hit-and-run accident in Southern California, it is critical to do what you can at the scene to identify the vehicle or the driver. If you are able to do so, photograph the vehicle before it leaves the scene or jot down the motorist’s license plate number. Of course, it can be difficult or even impossible to identify the driver in crashes that result in serious injuries, especially since these accidents can be disorienting. If you can identify the driver, you ultimately may be able to file a car accident lawsuit against that motorist to seek compensation for your injuries.
In the meantime, you may be able to file an auto insurance claim through your own auto insurance if you pay for certain types of coverage. For example, you can typically file a collision coverage claim to pay for your vehicle damage, while you may be able to seek coverage for your medical care through Medical Pay Benefits (or more simply, Med Pay) coverage. If you pay for uninsured motorist coverage, you may also be able to seek compensation.
Our hit-and-run lawyers in Los Angeles can speak with you about strategies for identifying the driver and holding that driver accountable. If you can identify the responsible driver, you may also be able to file an auto insurance claim through that motorist’s coverage.
Do You Need an Attorney to Negotiate with Your Own Insurer?
Sometimes. Even though you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurer might still deny a claim. For example, your insurer might claim that you were at fault for the collision, which means they do not have to pay compensation.
Negotiating with your own insurer is often a headache. Although you might expect them to treat you fairly, injured victims often need to fight to receive reasonable compensation. Let an experienced hit and run accident lawyer in Los Angeles do this work for you.
Helpful Information for Identifying a Hit and Run Driver
The driver might have fled the scene, but it is still possible to find them if you quickly note relevant information, such as:
- The car’s color, make, and model. There might be other identifying characteristics, such as a bumper sticker or fender half-torn off the vehicle. Write down whatever you remember.
- The license plate number. Even a few numbers or letters can dramatically winnow down the number of suspects. If it looked like an out-of-state plate, note that as well.
- A general description of the driver. Male or female? Race? Eyeglasses? Anything at all is helpful.
- The direction the vehicle fled. This can also help identify the driver.
Share all this information with the police when you call to report the accident. The authorities can use it to track down the suspect.
Are Hit and Run Drivers Ever Found?
Yes. Police are particularly eager to find a driver who hurts someone in a collision. If there was only property damage, then the authorities might not make finding the driver a priority. Resources are limited, after all. But leaving the scene of an accident when someone has suffered bodily injuries is a serious crime.
Police have many tools they can use. In addition to the helpful information listed above, they can also visit nearby businesses to find surveillance video which captured the crash. This video might capture the license plate number or the direction where the car fled. If the criminal just left a business, police can also use credit card information to finger the correct suspect.
How Comparative Fault Can Affect Your Los Angeles Hit and Run Accident Claim
What will happen if you do identify a hit-and-run driver and file a claim, but that motorist says that you are also partially at fault for the accident? For example, the motorist might claim you cut them off, causing your own wreck. Allegations like this raise the issue of comparative fault.
Under California’s comparative fault law, a plaintiff can seek compensation regardless of whether she or he is partially to blame for the crash or for her injuries. As long as the defendant still bears some responsibility, the plaintiff can recover. This is true whether the plaintiff is 1 or 2 percent at fault or 99 percent at fault. However, if the court does determine that the plaintiff is partially at fault, the plaintiff’s total damages award will be diminished by that plaintiff’s percentage of fault.
For example, if you suffer $80,000 in losses but are 50% to blame, then you can receive $40,000 at most. If you were 30% at fault, you could receive $54,000. Comparative fault can make a big difference between a full and fair recovery or serious financial losses caused by a wreck.
Comparative fault also comes into play with insurance company negotiations. An insurer will not offer full compensation if they believe you have contributed to your accident. For this reason, it is critical to meet with a Los Angeles hit and run accident lawyer as quickly as possible. We can ensure you do not make any statements that an insurer will use against you. Instead, we can minimize any fault of your own—all with the goal of maximizing your take-home compensation.
Learn More by Contacting Our Los Angeles Hit and Run Accident Lawyers
Hit-and-run collisions occur much more often than many people expect in Southern California and across the country, and they can result in devastating injuries. Even if the hit-and-run driver is not immediately identified after the accident, our aggressive Los Angeles hit and run accident attorneys can assist you with your auto insurance claim and can begin gathering evidence so that you can file a car accident lawsuit against the responsible party. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm to learn more about how we can help with your claim. Contact Fisher & Talwar to learn more about filing a hit and run claim in California.