If you are a pedestrian victim of a hit and run incident, you are probably in physical and possibly emotional distress. With the disillusionment following an accident, filing a lawsuit may be the last thing you are thinking about. If the accident occurred due to another person’s negligence and you have sustained injuries, you probably want to leave your legal options open. Here is a look at hit and run accidents, the actions you should consider taking, and how a lawyer can assist you.
What is a Hit and Run?
In general terms, a hit and run accident is a car accident involving another car, fixed object, or pedestrian where the motorist leaves the scene without stopping to render aid to the injured party or to identify themselves.
In some states, it does not matter who is to blame for an accident. The act of leaving the scene of an accident qualifies as a hit and run. However, if you have to leave an accident scene for emergency assistance, like to go to a place with a phone signal to call for help, then this is not regarded as a hit and run provided you return to the accident scene immediately.
What Are the Penalties for a Hit and Run?
Hit and run accidents can either be classified as felonies or misdemeanors.
- A felony hit and run is when a motorist leaves the scene of an accident where there is some kind of injury to a person, whether it is a pedestrian or vehicle occupant. The penalties for felony hit and run can be a fine of between $5,000 and $20,000. There is also a potential for incarceration and depending on the extent of the injuries, this could be up to 15 years imprisonment.
- When a hit and run is classified as a misdemeanor, the penalty could go up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.
Hit and run accidents also subject people to administrative penalties. The driver of the car could have their license suspended or revoked for six months.
What Are Your Legal Options After a Hit and Run Accident?
If you are a victim of a hit and run accident, you can file a claim with the driver’s insurance company or else file a lawsuit against them for the damages you have suffered. This lawsuit should demand for monetary compensation like lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and property damage.
In some states, a driver who is responsible for a hit and run accident may be required to pay treble damages. This means that the type of damages awarded to you will be tripled to punish the defendant’s behavior.
Do I Need a Lawyer For a Hit and Run Accident?
The question of whether you need a lawyer for a hit and run accident arises very often in injury cases. While it is possible for a pedestrian to pursue a claim without legal assistance; it is usually advisable to consult a lawyer. The main reason is that it is usually difficult to prove hit and run accidents. Furthermore, demanding payment from the motorist’s insurance company can be quite a challenge.
Since most lawyers provide free consultation, you probably won’t be charged up front. Additionally, most lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. Therefore, your lawyer might handle your case from the start to the finish without requesting payment until they succeed in getting you compensation. Of course you’ll want to verify with the lawyer how they handle their fees before hiring them.
An experienced lawyer uch as the Personal Injury Lawyer Charlottesville VA locals trust can help you gather evidence to prove your case, put up a strong case against the at-fault party’s insurance company, and represent you in court if a settlement is not forthcoming.
Thanks to authors at Martin Wren P.C., for their insight into Personal Injury Law.