Legal Issues In Hit And Run Accident Cases
All drivers share certain responsibilities and duties both when behind the wheel and when involved in a traffic accident. Many state laws require alerting emergency services and police authorities. These laws help to ensure that medical assistance is received when necessary and police can secure collision scenes. Beyond these post car accident duties, it is also necessary for people involved in an accident to exchange contact and insurance information in order to begin the financial recovery process.1 However, problems may arise when parties involved in an auto accident do not stop and leave the scene prematurely.
What is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run occurs when there is an auto accident involving a collision with a pedestrian, another vehicle, or a fixed object and then the driver departs from the scene without rendering assistance, contacting emergency services or the police, or providing necessary contact and insurance information.2 A hit and run is not defined or limited to determination of fault or location of the collision. In other words, even if a driver did not cause the accident, but chooses to leave the scene then he or she has committed a hit and run.3 Similarly, a hit and run can occur on rural roads, intersections, highways, public roads, or parking lots since most states do not restrict the term based on location of the collision.
Complexity of Hit and Run Cases
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that fatal hit and run crashes are on the rise with most recent reports indicating that nearly 1,500 crashes occur each year.4 The risk to pedestrians is also high as one in five pedestrian fatalities is linked to a hit and run accident.5 No matter the number of annual hit or run crashes, every single collision brings with it a unique set of legal issues. A single hit and run case may require the involved parties to become witnesses, claimants for property damages, or claimants for personal injuries.
Criminal and Civil Consequences For a Hit and Run
Depending on the nature of the accident a party involved in a hit and run will face a mixture of criminal and civil repercussions. In the state of Missouri, state statutes indicate that the offense of leaving the scene of an accident is either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class E felony when there is physical injury or damage in excess of one thousand dollars. Civil consequences can result from any lawsuit seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or property damage due to the delays in medical aid or worsened conditions caused by fleeing the scene.6 Evidence collected from the scene including reconstructions as well as personal testimony will be used to determine complex points such as who caused the accident or what impact the crime of leaving the scene caused on the victim of the collision. These points are just a few of the legal issues that have to be managed in order to coordinate an appropriate claim, work with insurance companies, and seek fair compensation.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured by a driver who illegally fled the scene of the accident, then it is important to discuss the circumstances of your hit and run collision with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help you to determine what claims should be filed and protect your rights and interests. To contact an auto accident attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.
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If you or someone you care about has been seriously injured in an auto accident, contact The Bruning Law Firm today. We provide the comprehensive, professional legal representation you deserve at a time when you need it most.
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I represent individuals in Missouri and Illinois in all types of personal injury cases. In my short time here I have obtained a judgment for $2.5 million and settled a large class action lawsuit for a confidential amount.
I love the city of St. Louis and support it and give back whenever I can. Recently I was appointed by Mayor Francis Slay to serve on the Advisory Board for the Gateway Mall.
I am married to my lovely wife Lauren and we have two beautiful daughters, Mia and Bridget.