After a car accident, stress is common, and it gets worse when the other driver flees the scene. This is not only against the law but can complicate an already tough situation. Hit and run accidents usually happen because the other driver wants to avoid legal consequences and insurance issues.
If you’re in Thousand Oaks and facing this situation, Quirk Accident and Injury Attorneys can help you. Our team of Thousand Oaks car accident lawyers can negotiate with insurance companies to get you financial support, even if the other driver isn’t found. No matter your insurance company, we help victims rebuild their lives. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Steps to Take After a Thousand Oaks Hit and Run Accident
More So than any other type of car accident, the steps you take after a hit and run accident in Thousand Oaks is extremely important to your overall recovery. The reasons for this aren’t complicated: you need to have certain information to fully explore your legal rights. When there’s a hit and run accident, you are lacking very important information–namely who the driver was and what insurance coverage they have–if at all.
Like any other car accident, your immediate priority should be getting to safety and checking for injuries, both for yourself and any passengers. Once you’ve secured safety and medical assistance if needed, you can turn your attention to the subsequent steps following a hit and run accident:
- Contact the police – Just like in any accident involving injuries or property damage, it’s essential to call the police. They will investigate the incident and create an official report. Additionally, inform them that the other driver fled the scene.
- Try to remember details – Make an effort to recall as much information as possible about the other driver and their vehicle. This includes details like the color, make, and model. If you can manage to snap a photo of their license plate, it could be a valuable piece of evidence for identifying them.
- Document any evidence – Collect as much photographic and video evidence of the accident scene as you can. It’s also a good idea to ask any witnesses for their contact information and inquire if they have any photos or videos related to the incident. This evidence will assist your attorney in building a comprehensive account of the events.
The last, and perhaps most important, step is to contact our team of lawyers. We can explain the legal process to you and further assess your claim and what options you have.
How Does California Law Treat Hit and Run Accidents?
Not surprisingly, California law approaches hit-and-run accidents very seriously. Partly due to the danger, and partly due to the serious nature of any car accident, hit-and-run accidents can carry serious penalties for perpetrators. Here’s a quick overview of how the law treats these incidents:
- Stopping the vehicle – California Vehicle Code Section 20001 states that if you are involved in an accident that causes injury or death, you must immediately stop at the scene. Not doing so is a crime.
- Exchanging information – If you’re in an accident, you must exchange information with the other party involved. This includes your name, address, and vehicle registration number. If the other party is not present, you must leave this information on their vehicle.
- Reporting to law enforcement – If the accident results in injury or death, you are required to report it to local law enforcement. This should be done as soon as possible, usually within hours.
- Penalties – Hit and run offenses can result in both criminal and civil penalties. Usually these include fines, license suspension, and even jail time. The severity of the penalties depends on the extent of the damage or injuries involved. In addition to criminal penalties, perpetrators can be held financially responsible for the damages caused in the accident.
- Misdemeanor vs. felony – Hit and run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. If someone is injured or killed, it’s more likely to be charged as a felony, carrying more severe consequences.
Regardless of the cause, it’s unlawful for the other party to leave the accident site. This not only results in legal consequences but also holds the driver responsible for any harm or damage to your vehicle. Locating the driver can be challenging, especially right after the accident, so in a hit and run situation, it’s important to understand what your legal options are.
Legal Options After a Thousand Oaks Hit-and-Run Accident
The legal process in a Thousand Oaks hit-and-run accident is slightly different from a normal car accident, but ultimately you still have the ability to file an injury claim. The main difference is that you may have to rely on your own insurance. To that end, California has insurance requirements in place for every driver–including you. So, if there’s a hit-and-run accident, the following coverages may come into play:
- Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM)/Underinsured Motorist coverage (UIM) – These coverage options are in place for just this type of situation. California requires drivers to maintain a minimum of $15,000 per individual, $30,000 for multiple individuals, and at least $5,000 for property damage under UM/UIM coverage. In cases of hit and run accidents, where the responsible driver is unknown, they are considered uninsured. In such instances, your UM/UIM insurance policy can provide compensation for damages.
- MedPay coverage – This can cover immediate medical expenses for you and your passengers, regardless of fault. The minimum coverage limit is $1,000 for each injured person, but higher coverage limits are also available.
- Collision coverage – This covers accidental damage to your vehicle, irrespective of fault. While it’s typically the costliest type of auto insurance, it offers protection for any harm to your vehicle.
Sometimes, the police may eventually locate a hit-and-run driver. Other times, our team can utilize its resources to try to help track down the at-fault driver. Regardless, though, the law is clear in that you, as an injury victim, have the ability to file a claim for damages. In this claim, you can potentially recover the following:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Past and future income losses.
- Pain and suffering.
- Any lasting disfigurement or disability.
- Reduced quality of life.
- Funeral and burial expenses in the unfortunate event of a wrongful death, alongside other substantial damages.
Why Do Hit-and-Run Accidents Happen in Thousand Oaks?
Understanding the causes behind hit-and-run accidents is crucial for being prepared should one happen to you. Various factors can drive people in Thousand Oaks to commit these offenses, despite the public’s awareness of their severity and associated penalties. While each incident may have unique circumstances, some of the most common reasons include:
- Trying to escape legal punishment – Some drivers flee accident scenes out of fear of the legal repercussions. For instance, a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol may leave to evade a DUI arrest.
- Lack of awareness – In bustling urban areas like Thousand Oaks, distractions can be high, causing drivers to be less aware of their surroundings, thus increasing accident risks. Some may not even realize they’ve struck something or someone and leave unintentionally.
- Financial concerns – Some drivers lack insurance or valid licenses, making them more likely to flee the scene to avoid financial responsibility and legal consequences.
- Panic or shock – In certain cases, drivers may be overwhelmed by panic or shock after an accident, leading them to leave due to fear or confusion, rather than a deliberate intention to avoid legal penalties.
No matter what the reason is, it’s vital to seek medical help and report such incidents to law enforcement if you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident in Thousand Oaks. After that, make sure to reach out to our team of experienced car accident lawyers. We can assist you in navigating the intricate legal procedures involved in these cases and pursuing financial support for your injuries and losses.
Contact Our Thousand Oaks Car Accident Lawyers
At Quirk Accident and Injury Attorneys, we bring extensive legal expertise to the table, and we are well-versed in the steps needed to get fair outcomes for our clients in Thousand Oaks. If you’ve been in a hit-and-run accident or any other type of car accident, contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll get to work for you.