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Hit And Run Investigation Process California

Hit and run is unfortunately very common in California. Over 1 in 10 fatalities in California are due to hit and run drivers. There are around 20,000 Californians that are injured in a single year due to hit and run drivers. In the last 10 years in California, hit and run accidents have nearly tripled, posing a safety concern for several drivers on the road.

Many people may assume that because they have been involved in a hit and run accident, they do not have a right to file a claim or lawsuit since the at-fault person cannot be located. but, instead, there are several steps to take to investigate and determine who the hit-and-run driver may be.

In this day and age, there are several businesses around that may have surveillance footage. There may also be Witnesses who may be able to identify the vehicle. The key is to never give up, and to contact an experienced attorney if you believe you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident.

If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident,  give our top-rated attorneys a call to discuss how you could recover compensation. 

Is a hit-and-run illegal?

A hit and run that causes bodily injury is considered to be a felony, and a hit and run that only causes property damage could be a misdemeanor. This depends on the circumstances of the hit and run, and the effect that it has. This is outlined under California Vehicle Code Section 20002.

What could I recover in a hit and run lawsuit?

Once the hit-and-run driver has been properly identified, you could recover various types of compensation, including: 

  • Medical bills: these are bills that result from treating the injuries caused by the hit-and-run
  •  Property damage: this is damage done to the vehicle. The vehicle may have to be replaced or repaired depending on the circumstances of the hit
  •  Pain and suffering: pain and suffering takes into account the emotional distress that the accident victim had to go through. Pain and suffering could be especially more difficult in hit and run accidents since the accident victim will have to live in the constant unknown as the hit and run driver is being investigated and identified.
  •  Punitive damages: punitive damages are not always awarded, but only in malicious circumstances. In hit and run cases, the malicious intent of the other driver is exemplified, and so punitive damages are more likely to be awarded then standard car accidents with a known driver.

Which Evidence is Important in a Hit and Run Case?

Many may think that after hit and run accident, a witness is the only key piece of evidence that they need. But, there are several other types of evidence that will be helpful when determining who the hit-and-run driver is. For example, examples of evidence could include:

  • Video footage: many vehicles are equipped with surveillance cameras that constantly record the vehicle. There may also be businesses nearby that have surveillance videos set up and pointed to the road. Our top-rated hit-and-run attorneys will look into the location of any nearby businesses or residences that may have surveillance footage. You must act quickly, since many surveillance programs now have a retention policy, and may refresh the system and delete the video after a couple weeks.
  •  Tire marks: tire marks on the floor may also provide more information as to which direction the hit and run driver drove off to. Experts use tire marks to determine the location of where the hit and run driver drove off to, and how they sped up or slowed down when the incident occurred. A tire mark could determine the vehicle speed and weather conditions of the time of the accident. For example, if there are short tire marks, that means that the negligent driver tried to stop the vehicle at some point. When there are long streaks of tire marks, this means that the driver instead attempted to speed away, which could point to malicious intent. If there are curved tire marks, this may mean that the road conditions were slippery at the time.
  • Paint damage: the vehicle’s damaged paint may also be a key giveaway on how fast the other car was driving, and what direction the other car drove off to. 
  • Photographs of the accident location: photographs of the accident location may not specifically show the hit-and-run driver, but may show different conditions that may assist investigators in determining how the hit and run driver drove off. Sometimes, there may be photographs of the people inside the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle. Police officers, along with accident investigators, may launch a full investigation into identifying those faces in the vehicle.
Front of car smashed in hit and run accident

Review All Evidence

This step may take a while since several different experts may be involved, and may work together. For example, the Department of Motor Vehicles may need to look into the license plate or make and model of the vehicle that hit the accident victim. In some cases, investigators may look to accident reconstruction experts to determine how the accident happened and what type of vehicle may have been  driven by the hit and run driver.  This is also the time where accident reconstruction programs are used, such as programs that may make a video or photo clear.

What if I cannot identify the hit-and-run driver?

If the hit-and-run driver can still not be identified after an in depth investigation, you may still have a right to file a claim with your insurance company.

How can our attorneys help you?

  • Each type of car accident could result in different damages. You should schedule a one-on-one case evaluation with a hit-and-run attorney quickly to make sure that you have protected your rights, and that the evidence is still easily accessible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it could be to gather evidence of the accident. 
  • Our attorneys will help you file a hit-and-run lawsuit against the negligent driver once the negligent driver has been identified.
  •  Our attorneys will also help you file an insurance claim against your insurance company or the hit-and-run driver’s insurance company for compensation.

Will an insurance company investigate a hit-and-run accident?

Sometimes, an insurance company may also step in and investigate the circumstances of the hit-and-run accident to determine who the driver is. For example, if you were to file a claim with your own insurance company for this hit and run, your insurance company may then launch its own independent investigation to determine if it should pay out your claim.

Contact An Experienced Hit And Run Accident Law Firm Today

Our Heidari law attorneys will take a look at your case and determine what steps to take to make sure we move forward with your best interests in mind.

Our attorneys are contingency fee attorneys, and do not collect any compensation up front unless we win a settlement or judgment in your favor. For more information on contingency fee agreements, give us a call to discuss.

*** Disclaimer: This page, created by Heidari Law Group, is intended for educational purposes only and provides a broad overview of legal principles. It should not be considered specific legal advice. Your use of this site and review of this material does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Heidari Law or any of its members. Laws are subject to change, and therefore some information presented here may not reflect current legal standards. All logos and images on this site are the property of their respective owners and are used only for illustrative purposes; their presence does not indicate endorsement or affiliation. Please respect the copyright restrictions of these images and logos. If you have concerns about copyright infringement or require proper attribution, contact us immediately. We are committed to honoring intellectual property rights and will respond promptly to any issues.

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Sam Heidari

Sam Ryan Heidari

Sam Heidari is the founding principal of Heidari Law Group, a law firm specializing in personal injury, wrongful death, and employment law with offices in California and Nevada. Sam Heidari has been practicing law for over 11 years and handles a wide range of cases including car accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination, and product liability. The Heidari Law Group legal firm is known for its comprehensive approach, handling cases from initial consultation through to final judgment. Sam Heidari is dedicated to community involvement and advocacy for civil liberties.

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