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Someone hits your parked car as you’re sitting in a parking lot. The driver of the other car quickly drives away. Before you can get out of your car and take a look at who hit you, they speed off. What should you do? Finding yourself in a hit-and-run accident is very common among drivers in California.

California is the number one state when it comes to getting involved in a hit and run accident. According to a report from the AAA foundation, one hit-and-run accident happens in the United States every minute. In California alone, 337 deaths were caused by hit-and-runs in just one year. This rate has shot up 60% when compared to 10 years ago. In 2017, 134 pedestrians were killed in a hit-and-run accident in Los Angeles. This is a major concern for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle riders as freeways and streets get more and more crowded with everyone resorting to get back to work after the covid-19 pandemic.

If you are the driver of a hit-and-run accident in California

In California, a hit-and-run is a very serious offense that is not taken lightly. Hit and runs can lead to severe consequences, both for the person injured and for the driver who left the scene of the accident. If you are a loved one have been involved leaving the scene of an accident, it is very important to understand the repercussions of leaving the scene. There are several legal claims that could be made against you and potential charges you could face from the state. For those who have been hit in a hit-and-run accident, it is important to report it to the police immediately. It is also important to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney to help bring legal charges against the person who caused your injuries.

California vehicle code section 20002 prohibits driver’s from leaving the scene of an accident after hitting another person or car. Violating such vehicle code section is considered to be a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors have maximum penalties of 6 months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. Many personal injury attorneys suggest that running away in a hit-and-run accident is a sign of guilt.

California vehicle code section 20002 states:

“(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. Moving the vehicle in accordance with this subdivision does not affect the question of fault.”

“(c) Any person failing to comply with all the requirements of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.” 

In order to violate California vehicle code section 20002, you must leave the scene of the accident, fail to identify yourself to others involved, and cause damage to someone else’s property. The prosecution will have to prove the defendant caused the vehicle accident, the defendant caused the damage to someone else’s personal property, that the defendant knew they were involved in the accident, and failed to stop immediately after the accident.

What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident?

There are certain steps one must follow if they are injured in a hit-and-run accident. The key takeaway is to gather as much information as possible to help the police find the fleeing driver.

  1.  Immediately moved to a safe location to prevent any other accidents
  2.  Call 911 immediately if you or a passenger have been injured.
  3.  Try to get as much information about the fleeing driver as possible, including their license plate, their vehicle’s make, model and color, and photos of any damage
  4.  Try to find witnesses who could give more information about the fleeing driver
  5. When the police statement is being made, try to give as much information as possible to the officers
  6. Make sure that an accident claim is created immediately after the accident to give police officers as much information as possible so they can find the fleeing suspect.
  7. Try to see if there are any other cameras facing towards the scene of the accident. For example, several restaurants now have cameras pointed towards the streets and could offer their video footage to assist in finding the fleeing driver.

Can the police find a hit-and-run driver?

Unfortunately, some victims wait years until the driver is found. Some victims don’t even know who the hit and run driver ever was. In the year 2017, the Los Angeles Police Department solved only 8% of hit-and-run cases. The Los Angeles Police Department suggested that the victims who were injured in hit-and-runs contact their insurance companies to determine if they could file a claim.

Will my insurance rate go up if I have been involved in a hit-and-run accident?

If you have an injured as a result of a hit-and-run accident, your insurance rate will not go up. There are specific California laws that outlaw insurance claims going up. Insurance companies are prohibited from raising hit-and-run rates as long as the claim is made within a reasonable time. As a note, some insurance companies require that hit-and-run accidents be filed one year after the accident.

Does an insurance policy cover hit-and-run?

Sometimes insurance policies have collision coverage and may cover claims if a car been involved in a hit-and-run accident. Even if the driver is not found, you could claim it on your insurance coverage depending on the insurance policy you have. But regular coverage does not always cover hit-and-run accidents. If the hit-and-run driver is found, comprehensive insurance coverage will be able to cover any costs. Although you can make a claim for bodily injury for a hit-and-run, it is difficult to make a claim for property damage.

Statute of limitations for hit-and-run accidents

Under California law, you can make a claim in court for a hit and run up to two years after the accident. Our experienced personal injury attorneys advise that you bring the claim as soon as possible to prevent any delays. Constantly track the police officers’ investigation and file an insurance claim letting them know about all the medical attention you have received.

Contact the accident attorneys at Heidari law

If you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident, contact our car accident attorneys to review the details of your case. At our no-risk consultation, our attorneys will review your legal options to ensure the maximum compensation for your injuries.

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.