The number of hit and run accidents continues to rise in the United States. A hit and run occurs when a driver flees the scene of an accident that he or she was involved in without stopping, exchanging or leaving contact information. Under Massachusetts driving law, drivers involved in an accident resulting in $1,000 or more worth of damage must submit a written report about the accident to the registrar within five days of the accident. The term hit and run is frequently used to describe a fatal accident, particularly involving a pedestrian, where the driver leaves the scene, but a hit and run can also include accidents where individuals are injured but not fatally or where there is only property damage. Drivers often flee accident scenes because they were intoxicated or because they were texting or knew that they were otherwise negligent at the time of the accident. Since the injured parties in hit and run accidents are usually killed or incapacitated as the result of the accident, it is often extremely difficult to find the driver – much less to recover from their actions.
Can the Police Find the Driver?
It is important to file a police report as quickly as possible after the accident. Even if you could not make out the license plate number or other identifying marks, police may still be able to track down the vehicle that was involved in the hit and run. Surveillance cameras may be able to lead police to the driver, and drivers often go to mechanics or body shops quickly after a hit and run in order to get damage to their car fixed or have their car repainted, so police may be able to find the vehicle while it is being repaired.
How Can You Be Compensated for the Damages?
If the car or the driver is identified, it is likely that you will be able to recover under the driver’s or car’s insurance policy if there is one. What do you do if the driver is uninsured or underinsured or if the driver cannot be found? In those instances, it may still be possible to recover under your own insurance policy. If the driver has been identified, then he or she may also be personally liable for your property or personal damages regardless of whether his or her insurance covers them.
What Other Penalties Will the Driver Face?
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a serious crime under Massachusetts law, and the legal and personal consequences can be severe. In addition to having to pay for the other person’s damages, a driver who causes an accident and then leaves the scene without exchanging contact information may face criminal charges, up to and including a felony charge if there was a fatality. A negligent driver may have to serve prison time, do community service or spend time on probation. A driver convicted of a hit and run may have his or her license suspended and may have a difficult time obtaining car insurance in the future.
Getting Legal Assistance
In personal injury cases, having a good lawyer can mean the difference of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Personal injury attorney Peter Ventura has practiced in central Massachusetts since 1985, and his law firm has experience in representing individuals in all types of driving and other personal injury litigation. For an evaluation of your case, contact the law office of Peter Ventura today at 508-755-7535.