Following a car accident, the proper protocol is for both drivers to stop driving and wait for the police to arrive and make a report. Not everyone follows this protocol. If you were hit by a driver who immediately fled the scene, you might need to contact an Olive Branch personal injury lawyer to help you get the compensation you are due.
You can reach an attorney by contacting Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC today.
Hit-and-run accidents involve a driver hitting another vehicle, a person, item, or structure, then leaving the scene without providing any form of contact information. Through their actions, they make the process of recovering compensation from them more difficult, or without the help of a hit-and-run lawyer in Olive Branch, potentially impossible. This is illegal in every state, so the driver who committed the hit-and-run may also be held criminally liable.
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According to the AAA Foundation, there were approximately 737,100 hit-and-run accidents in 2015. Over the past ten years, an average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred annually. Many of the offenders in these accidents were prosecuted, but some were able to escape justice.
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Why Hit-and-Run Accidents Happen
Hit-and-run accidents are often caused by environmental factors and the judgment of the driver who caused the crash. The environmental factors that are likely to influence hit-and-run outcomes include lighting, roadway geometry, and the location of where the collision occurred. If it is expected that nobody else saw the crash, a hit-and-run is far more likely.
By this standard, better lighting conditions and higher numbers of potential witnesses drastically decrease the odds of a hit-and-run happening. The time of day also plays a significant role in whether hit-and-runs are likely to occur. For example, a 2012 examination of a single person, single pedestrian fatal crashes found that drivers were 4.4 times more likely to flee between midnight and 4 AM when compared to those whose accidents occurred between 8 AM and noon.
Additionally, fatal pedestrian hit-and-run accidents are half as likely while the sun is still out. This is believed to be because lower visibility makes it more likely that drivers will be able to escape without witnesses catching on.
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A hit-and-run accident can have severe consequences for all involved parties. The person who committed the crime can face civil and criminal penalties, while victims may suffer catastrophic injuries or even death.
Consequences for Victims
Like any other car accident, there is great potential for harm when a hit-and-run accident occurs. This is especially true when the victim is a pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcyclist. In addition, the risk of serious harm increases when few others are around, and emergency services are not called immediately to administer care.
Of the many ways a hit-and-run accident can impact the lives of victims, these are the most serious:
- Physical injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Financial obligations, such as medical bills and rehabilitative care costs
- Temporary and permanent disabilities
- Lost wages and other income
- Psychological harm, such as PTSD
- Loss of enjoyment in life
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a hit-and-run accident, an Olive Branch hit-and-run attorney may be able to help. They will assess the circumstances of your case to determine if any of your losses can be mitigated.
Consequences for Offenders
When someone gets convicted of a hit-and-run, the penalties vary depending on the state in which the accident occurred. Hit-and-run accidents may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense, with felonies carrying much more substantial penalties. To be accused of a felony, the hit-and-run accident often must have caused some form of physical injury to a person.
Felony hit-and-run penalties include massive fines and potentially incarceration. The fines range between $5,000 and $20,000 in most states, while the prison sentence could be as long as 15 years. Misdemeanors have less severe penalties, including a year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
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You Need an Attorney After an Olive Branch Hit-and-Run Crash
An attorney will help you understand what your options are following a hit-and-run accident. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, that policy may cover the damages you have experienced. Even with such coverage, a lawyer may be able to help you find out who was responsible for the accident so that you and your insurance company can pursue compensation directly from them.
This process will likely involve collaboration with the authorities, so a hit-and-run attorney in Olive Branch will be highly effective at getting the job done. If the driver remains unidentified, you will only be able to recover compensation equal to your relevant insurance policy limits. To get the total amount you are due, contact an attorney immediately.
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Working with an attorney will help determine who hit you and caused your injuries. Once the driver who fled has been identified, you can start the process of filing a claim against them. If they cannot be identified, your attorney can help you recover compensation from your insurance company.
Understand that you have options after being the victim of a hit-and-run accident, and you are not alone. The talented attorneys of Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC are here to support you throughout this trying time. To schedule a free case evaluation, use the contact form on this page.