Sustaining an injury or property damage in an accident caused by a hit-and-run driver is not only a confusing experience but a frustrating one. Securing compensation after a hit-and-run incident can be incredibly challenging. Here, we want to discuss various compensation options after a hit-and-run accident occurs in California. We encourage you to reach out to an attorney if you have any questions about what steps you need to take right now.
Hit and run incidents are a crime. Under California law, a typical hit and run would be considered a misdemeanor and carry a fine of up to $1000 and up to six months in jail (Vehicle Code § 20002). If a hit-run leads to an injury or death of another party involved, then the charge becomes much more serious. This would fall under California Penal Code § 20001 and could be classified as a felony that results in fines of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to four years.
However, just because a hit and run is a crime does not necessarily mean a victim will receive compensation. The compensation part of these incidents falls to the insurance and civil court systems.
After a hit and run incident, the process of recovering compensation can be challenging and will depend on several factors. If the hit and run driver is not located, individuals will have to turn to their own insurance to recover compensation for their losses. The state of California does not require individuals to carry personal injury protection coverage or uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
However, we strongly encourage individuals to purchase these additional protections for scenarios just like this. There are plenty of uninsured drivers on the roadway, and a hit and run incident can be treated like an uninsured driver if the driver is not located. Individuals can file a claim against their own policy and receive coverage up to the limits of their policy.
This compensation should help cover the following types of expenses:
If the hit and run driver is located and they do have insurance as required by the state of California, then you can file a claim against their insurance policy. In the event the expenses go above the policy limits of the at-fault driver, it may be necessary to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover additional types of compensation.
The reality is that individuals often flee the scene because they do not have insurance in the first place. If the at-fault hit and run driver is located and does not have insurance, we strongly encourage individuals to speak to their attorney about the viability of filing a civil personal injury lawsuit against their assets. The process of moving a case through the civil court system can be costly, and if the driver cannot afford insurance, then it is unlikely they will have the assets needed to pay a judgment.
If you have questions about your particular case, a skilled Santa Ana car accident lawyer can offer you a free consultation and help you determine the next steps moving forward.