Vehicle accident statistics for the United States are nothing short of shocking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 100 people are killed every single day on U.S. roadways. There are over three million people injured in these car accidents. For those who suffer a hit and run accident, they face the additional challenge of seeking damages and identifying an unknown, at-fault motorist.
If you were involved in a hit and run accident, you are not alone. According to a report presented by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there were 737,100 hit and run accidents in the United States in 2015 and 2,049 hit and run fatalities in 2016–the highest number ever recorded. If you need assistance with a hit and run case, consider speaking with a Springfield hit and run accident lawyer at the Fitch Law Firm LLC.
Defining Hit and Run Accidents
A hit and run accident is one in which the driver of one vehicle causes damages or injuries to someone else and flees the scene without stopping. The injuries and the types of damage involved can vary. Someone may slightly bump your car or strike you with force and drive off, or they may strike a pedestrian and drive away. Hitting a public roadside fixture such as a traffic sign or a private roadside fixture, such as a mailbox, and driving off are also defined as a hit and run.
Depending on the damage caused, a hit and run accident is often classified as a misdemeanor under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) §4549.02 and may lead to minor fines. However, depending on the circumstances and the extent of the damage involved, it may be classified as a felony and can lead to substantial fines and even jail time.
It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident if you are aware of the damage that you caused. You must stop and exchange insurance and contact information with the victim if you can identify them. If you cannot find or identify them, you are to report the accident to local law enforcement. Leaving the scene without doing so is a crime.
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Why Hit and Run Accidents Occur
If leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging information with the victim is illegal, why do people do so? There are many reasons for hit and run accidents, especially if the at-fault driver:
- Did not think and simply fled the scene
- Was afraid of the consequences of the accident
- Did not have insurance
- Was driving a vehicle illegally
- Did not have permission to use the vehicle
- Had previous citations, suspensions, or improper licensing
- Caused extensive property damage or bodily injuries
Irrespective of how a hit and run accident occurs, it leaves the innocent victim with the dilemma of recovering damages, paying for repairs, and getting their life back on track without an at-fault party from whom to recover losses. A Springfield hit and run accident lawyer may be able to assist you with such cases and can potentially help you search for the at-fault driver, identify compensable damages and injuries you may have grounds for filing a claim for, and evaluating the extent of your damages.
We offer a free case review for victims of hit and run accidents.
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Hit and Run Insurance Rules
Ohio is an at-fault state, and the victims of accidents can seek compensation for qualifying damages and losses from the insurer of the at-fault party who was responsible for causing the accident.
If you cannot identify the driver who hit you, you may have to resort to using your uninsured or underinsured motorist policy to cover your damages. You are not required to have this coverage in Ohio, so if you do not have it, you may have to use a combination of your personal injury cover, collision coverage, or medical expense cover–whichever are applicable–and seek compensation from your own insurer.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 12.4% of drivers in Ohio—that is about one in eight individuals—does not have insurance, so having uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is usually recommended. However, keep in mind that some uninsured motorist policies do not cover damages from hit and run accidents, so you must carefully read the fine print of your policy to determine the exact situations and the kinds of damage that your policy entitles you to receive.
Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries
Any automobile accident can leave you with severe injuries that require lengthy periods of recovery. Commonly reported car accident injuries can include:
- Head and shoulder injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Organ damage or organ loss
- Spine and neck injuries
A hit and run accident can leave you injured and unsure of where to turn for compensation. Our legal team will help you file an accident claim with your own insurance company if the at-fault driver cannot be found or identified.
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Compensation Options After a Hit and Run Accident
After a hit and run accident, you are generally entitled to the same financial compensation you could otherwise obtain. Our personal injury attorney will pursue the following recoverable damages on your behalf:
- Past, present, and future medical care
- Past, present, and future lost wages
- Property repair or replacement costs
- Ongoing physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anxiety
No two personal injury cases are exactly alike, and yours may entitle you to compensation not included on this list. Our car accident attorney and client-focused team will explain the specific types of compensation available to you.
Handling a Hit and Run Accident Case
It can be difficult to handle a hit and run accident for many reasons. Firstly, if you or a loved one suffered injuries in the accident, you need to focus on your recovery. Handling a car accident case while injured or while tending to someone who is injured can be difficult. Secondly, the rules that govern hit and run accident cases can be complex. They include rules on insurance coverage, compensable damages, how to determine fault, meeting filing deadlines, and more.
Finally, you must collect various forms of evidence and file a claim with the right agencies to prove a hit and run case. This includes collecting photo and video evidence, eyewitness testimony, police reports, and damage or injury assessments, and providing copies of this evidence to your insurer.
This is where a Springfield hit and run accident lawyer may be able to assist you. We understand the trauma that accident victims face, and we know how hard it can be to move forward on the path to recovery when there are so many unanswered questions. We are here to help you and explain more about hit and run accidents. We will show you how we handle them, what kinds of evidence we use to prove your losses, how we handle the insurance paperwork, and if and when your case warrants filing a lawsuit.
Please call the Fitch Law Firm LLC today at (614) 545-3930 to learn more. Statutes of limitation apply to cases involving property damage or physical injuries, so do not hesitate to reach out to us today.
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