Hit-and-Run Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles
Being involved in an automobile injury accident in California can be life-changing. Even being involved in a car accident that only results in property damage can be annoying and disruptive for most people. When drivers are struck by other motorists who flee the scene, trying to recover compensation to pay for their losses can be difficult. When a hit-and-run driver is not found or if a discovered hit-and-run driver has no insurance coverage, the other drivers may be able to recover damages by filing claims with their own insurance companies under their uninsured or underinsured motorist policies.What is a hit-and-run accident?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver leaves the scene of an accident instead of waiting for law enforcement officers to arrive. Many drivers who flee the scenes of accidents do so because of a fear that they will be arrested and charged for related crimes. For example, a hit-and-run driver may have been drinking or using drugs before the crash. He or she might have outstanding warrants or be driving without a license or insurance. Regardless of the reason why the person flees from an accident, his or her actions can cause multiple problems for the driver who was hit.Prevalence of hit-and-run accidents
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hit-and-run accidents in the U.S. have increased by 7.2% each year since 2009. In 2016, 2,049 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents, which was a 60% increase over the fatalities in 2009. An average of 682,000 of these types of accidents has happened in the U.S. each year since 2006. In Los Angeles, more than 100,000 hit-and-run collisions happened from 2014 to 2018. Out of these accidents, more than 23,000 were felony accidents that involved injuries. Less than 16,000 drivers out of the 100,000 hit-and-run accidents were ever caught.Hit-and-run accidents and the law
Under Cal. Veh. Code § 20002, leaving the scene of an accident that only caused property damage is a misdemeanor. Drivers are required to stop at the scene and notify the other vehicle's driver about the damage. They should also provide their names and insurance information. When a driver who violates this law is caught and convicted, he or she may face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
When a hit-and-run accident causes injuries to others, it is a felony under Cal. Veh. Code § 20001. Under this statute, people who are convicted of fleeing accidents in which someone else was injured will face up to one year in prison and a fine from $1,000 to $10,000. If someone else was seriously injured or killed, the driver will face from 90 days to two to four years in prison and a fine from $1,000 to $10,000.
Despite the laws criminalizing hit-and-run accidents, they continue to occur. People who are injured in hit-and-run accidents will not have the same legal recourse that they would if the drivers had remained at the scene. However, they may be able to file claims with their insurance companies under their UM/UIM policies.Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and hit-and-run accidents
Under Cal. Ins. Code § 11580.2, all insurance policies in California must include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage of up to the policy limits. However, people can waive this coverage in writing. People should choose to keep this type of coverage because of the risks of accidents with uninsured motorists or hit-and-run drivers.
As we have noted before, people may file claims with their UM/UIM policies when they have accidents with at-fault drivers who are either uninsured or underinsured. When the accident was caused by a hit-and-run driver, people can recover compensation under their UM/UIM policy by reporting their accidents to the police and their insurance company representatives.Why it is important to get help from an experienced personal injury lawyer
Getting help from an experienced personal injury lawyer after you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident is important for several reasons. A lawyer can make certain that you receive the proper medical care and can help to determine the likely future expenses you might face because of your injuries.
If you and your company can reach a settlement agreement, your attorney can review the release to ensure that it accurately reflects your agreement so that you can receive your payment. If you cannot reach an agreement with your insurance company, your claim will go to arbitration. This is a process that happens outside of court. You and the insurance company will be able to call witnesses and present evidence before an arbitrator. An arbitrator is a private judge who is hired to hear claims. An attorney can help to present your case during arbitration in a way that makes it likelier that you will prevail.
Insurance companies want to increase their profits as much as possible. Even though you might be dealing with your own insurance company after you have been injured in a hit-and-run collision, the company may do whatever it can to reduce the amount that it might be forced to pay you. An attorney can properly investigate your claim and collect evidence to maximize its value. He or she can negotiate with your company on your behalf to try to settle. If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer may represent your interests through arbitration.
Uninsured motorist coverage provides important protections to people and should not be waived. If you are unsure whether you have this type of coverage, you should review your insurance policy and talk to your insurance agent. You might also want to consider raising the amount of coverage that you have to ensure that you will be fully compensated if you are injured in a hit-and-run accident. To learn more about your rights and how to protect yourself after a hit-and-run accident, talk to the attorneys at the Steven M. Sweat Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 310.592.0445.