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California Records Highest Rate of Hit-and-Run Fatalities in the U.S.

Sharp shards of car glass on the asphalt from a hit-and-run accident

A Bay Area Car Accident Lawyer Reveals What Drivers Should Know

California topped the nation for the deadliest hit-and-run car accidents between 2010 and 2019, according to a recent report by ValuePenguin.

Unfortunately, hit-and-run crashes are becoming more frequent in every state. Shockingly, California accounted for 17 percent of the total hit-and-runs in the nation.

What Is a Hit-and-Run?

A hit-and-run involves a driver who strikes a person, another vehicle, or an object and leaves the scene of the crash knowingly without exchanging information. A driver who flees the crash scene in California could face legal consequences. The driver could be charged with a misdemeanor if he or she leaves the scene of an accident where there is no injury. If someone is injured and a driver flees, that driver could face a felony charge which could lead to a state prison sentence.

Why Do Drivers Flee From Accidents?

A responsible driver knows to stay at the scene of an accident and exchange information. In some cases, a driver might need to call an ambulance to help someone who is injured. There are many other reasons why it’s important to stay at the scene. But some people decide to run after causing an accident.

Here are some of the top reasons:

  • The driver was drunk or impaired by drugs
  • The driver was facing legal problems and does not want to talk to the police
  • The driver was uninsured or did not have a license in California
  • The driver was undocumented and does not want to risk deportation

What To Do After a Hit-and-Run Crash

After a hit-and-run, there are several steps you should take while still at the location of the crash:

  • Check for injuries: If you or anyone else is hurt, call 911 and ask them to send an ambulance.
  • Move your car, if possible: You may be blocking traffic or might be putting other drivers at risk of getting into another collision.
  • Call the police: Even if no one is injured, you will want the police to respond and create a report for insurance purposes.
  • Gather information: Write down or use your phone to make a voice recording of the details. If you remember any information about the fleeing driver, make a note of that. You might have seen the license plate number or know the color, model and make of the vehicle. You will need to record the information before you forget.

Keep in mind that you should never try to follow or track down the hit-and-run driver. While you might think you're doing the right thing, chasing a hit-and-run driver is extremely dangerous because you do not know who is behind the wheel, and you run the risk of crashing into others in the process. Your best option is to call the police and give them as many details about the driver and their vehicle as you can remember.

How Can an Attorney Help After a Hit-and-Run?

Hit-and-runs that result in injury or death can become complicated quickly. Even when the at-fault driver is identified, the insurance company may dispute who is responsible for paying damages. And even if the insurance company does make you a settlement offer, there's a good chance it might be much less than the true value of your claim.

With a hit-and-run, the driver who fled may never be located, which means you will have to work with your insurance company to cover your losses. In some cases, your insurance company may argue with you over your coverage and policy limits. They might say your injury was pre-existing and not caused by the accident. Remember, even your own insurance company is profit-driven. They may search for an excuse not to pay out the full claim or try to convince you to settle for a small amount that doesn’t cover the full extent of your losses.

This is when it’s time to contact an experienced car accident lawyer for a free consultation. At Clancy & Diaz, LLP, our attorneys put experience and resources to work for clients. We know how to negotiate a settlement to maximize compensation. And if the insurance company isn’t willing to settle for a fair amount, we are not afraid to take the fight to court.

Find out today how we can help you after a hit-and-run accident in California. We proudly serve clients in Walnut Creek, Antioch, and throughout the Bay Area.

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