After getting into an accident, drivers may suffer mild to severe injuries. If the driver who struck you flees after the accident, it can make pursuing compensation even more difficult. Fortunately, recent updates to California law make it more difficult for someone who takes part in a hit and run accident to get away without facing the consequences.
If you or a loved one were injured or killed from a hit and run accident, the Los Angeles hit and run accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins may represent your case and fight for fair compensation for your losses. Call our offices today for a free consultation. You can reach us at (800) 794-0444.
Factors in California Hit and Run Accidents
There are various reasons a person may decide to flee the scene of an accident, especially if they caused or contributed to it. Some factors involved in hit and run accidents may include:
- No Driver’s License or Outstanding Warrant: If a motorist is driving on a suspended license, they may choose to flee after hitting another vehicle. Additionally, someone with a criminal history could decide to flee after an accident.
- Driving Under the Influence: Drivers who are operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other substances may choose to flee after an accident occurs to avoid legal penalties for drinking and driving.
- Minor Accidents: Some drivers may claim that they do not believe an accident to be severe enough to warrant stopping and involving the police.
- Pedestrian Behavior: Intoxicated pedestrians pose a natural threat to themselves and other drivers and may put themselves at risk for a hit and run accident.
These are not the only potential factors in a hit and run case. Due to the wide spectrum of hit and run accident circumstances, navigating the nuances of the California hit and run laws can be complicated. You have a right to seek a lawyer to help build your case in a hit and run accident.
Hit and Run in the California Vehicle Code
Hit and run laws in California apply to different types of accidents. The California Vehicle Code covers both hit and run accidents that cause bodily injury or death to others as well as property damage accidents.
Hit and Run Accidents With Injury
California Vehicle Code § 20002 requires reporting of an accident if it results in the injury or death of a person other than himself or herself.
Hit and Run Accidents With Property Damage
In addition, the same law stipulates that any person who causes property damage must also stop and attempt to contact the owner or report the accident to the Department of the California Highway Patrol.
For hit and run accidents, the penalties can vary depending on the circumstances of the accident and the individual’s previous driving and criminal record. In either injury or property damage cases, drivers who commit a hit and run may face financial penalties as well.
If the hit and run accident results in a misdemeanor, the driver may face:
- Imprisonment for up to one year in county jail
- Financial penalties between $1,000 and $10,000
If the hit and run accident results in a felony, the driver may face:
- Imprisonment for up to four years in state jail
- Financial penalties between $1,000 and $10,000
These are the foundational charges in a hit and run accident, but more serious cases may require elevated consequences, depending on the California Criminal Code. Additionally, these charges do not include potential lawsuits from hit and run victims seeking compensation.
For a free legal consultation with a hit and run accidents lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (800) 794-0444
Legal Options for Hit and Run Accident Victims
If you were in a hit and run accident and can identify the person liable for your injuries, you can sue them for compensation to cover your losses. In cases where you cannot identify the person responsible for the accident, getting compensated for your losses could be difficult.
If you cannot identify the hit and run perpetrator, you will need to file a claim through your insurance. Having a lawyer help you with this process may allow you to focus on your recovery. If you can identify the perpetrator in your accident, you can file a claim through their insurance company or even file a personal injury lawsuit if necessary.
California Insurance Requirements
All drivers in California must have a minimum insurance amount to cover financial losses in the event of an accident, according to California Vehicle Code § 11580.1. Some people in the state drive illegally without any insurance coverage, though. This does not prevent you from seeking compensatory damages if an accident happens. Here are the minimum insurance coverage amounts:
- Bodily Injury Liability
- $15,000 minimum for the death or injury of another person.
- $30,000 minimum coverage for the death or injury of more than one person. The money is divided between accident victims if you are at fault.
- Property Damage Liability
- $5,000 for any non-bodily losses experienced in an accident.
While these insurance minimums could cover some of your damages, there is a chance that you will need additional compensation to fully recover from a hit and run accident.
Legal Claims for a Hit and Run Accident
Consider the short- and long-term impacts of the accident when you file a legal claim for compensatory damages. California Code of Civil Procedures §335.1 allows you two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. This may cover current and future hospital bills relating to your injuries from the accident, in addition to emotional recovery from the accident. A dependent person can file a personal injury claim on behalf of a loved one who was injured or killed in the accident, too.
Of course, every hit and run accident claim will be unique, so do not consider this an exhaustive list of your options. In any case, a Los Angeles hit and run accident lawyer may help you seek fair compensation. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444.