Being involved in a hit-and-run accident is a traumatic and frustrating experience. You don’t have the other party involved in the accident to own up to what they did, and the accident may have caused injuries and property damage. The good news is that you don’t have to face insurance companies alone. Commiting a hit-and-run accident is a crime, and legal help is available.
Let’s start by going over some basic information that’s vital to understand about hit-and-run accidents, what actions to take after you’re involved in one, and what the legal ramifications of such a crime are:
What Is a Hit-and-Run?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when someone causes a car accident and then leaves the scene. The accident can be with another car, a cyclist, a pedestrian, or even a fixed object.
People usually commit hit-and-runs because they’re afraid of what will happen if they stay and have to own up to the accident and deal with insurance. Those without insurance may flee the scene because they know they won’t be able to afford it. But committing a hit-and-run has many more negative consequences and could affect the rest of your life forever.
What Are the Penalties for a Hit-and-Run in Illinois?
Hit-and-run penalties can vary depending on the severity of the accident and if people were killed, injured, or property was damaged. Accidents that threaten the health and wellbeing of other people have penalties of monetary fines and jail time.
- Failure to Report an Accident: If someone causes an accident and fails to call the police, they could have to pay a fine of $2,500, or possibly spend up to a year in jail.
- Failure to Return to an Accident Scene: Fleeing the scene and failing to return within a half hour could have penalties of a $25,000 fine or three years in jail. There are also situations where the amount of property damage could mean a suspension from your license. More serious damages could result in your driver’s license being revoked.
- Accidents That Cause Death or Bodily Injury. A hit-and-run accident that causes death is a felony. Failing to provide assistance to a severely injured person can result in 1-3 years in jail and leaving the scene where someone has died can have a prison sentence of 5 years.
While accidents that only cause property damage didn’t harm anyone, they’re still taken seriously and fleeing the scene can have serious consequences. If the damage was more than $1,000, it’s possible the hit-and-run driver could lose their license.
What Should You Do After Being in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
The immediate moments after a hit and run can be emotionally devastating, or you may have an experience where you weren’t at your car when it was hit and find the damage afterwards. Either situation could leave you feeling helpless and at a loss for what to do. But if you act quickly, you give yourself a better chance of finding the person who commited the hit-and-run.
After being involved in a hit-and-run accident you should do the following:
- Assess If You’re Injured. If you’ve been involved in the accident, you may have serious injuries that need immediate medical attention.
- Call the Police. You should contact the authorities so they can start investigating your case as soon as possible.
- Inform Your Insurance Company. Reporting the hit-and-run accident to the insurance company will get the accident on record and inform them that you don’t have the identity of the person who did it.
- Contact Your Hit-and-Run Lawyer. When there isn’t a driver to hold accountable for the accident, you will want a hit-and-run lawyer at your side to protect your rights.
Will the Police Catch the Hit-and-Run Driver?
Catching the hit-and-run driver isn’t always guaranteed, but the police have a number of methods they use to track down the guilty party.
- Your Account. You may remember the make, model, color, or license plate of the car that hit you. This gives the police a starting point for finding the driver.
- Surveillance Cameras. It’s common for places of business, parking lots, and residential homes to have surveillance cameras for protection. The cameras may have caught the hit-and-run or the driver fleeing the scene.
- Eyewitnesses. People who witnessed the accident can provide crucial details as well as corroborating your story that someone hit you and fled.
- Social Media. If the police need to find more details, they may bring up the hit-and-run on social media to reach a wider audience. This could reach someone who knows something about the accident that regular canvassing wouldn’t have accomplished.
An experienced Marion, IL car accident lawyer from Prince Law Firm can help you with your claim. A lawyer will do everything possible to investigate the crash, determine what caused your injuries, and fight for your right to fair compensation. Contact Prince Law Firm today for a free consultation.