What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident

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What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident

By Max Connect
January 23, 2024

Hit-and-run accidents are a troubling reality on our roads. If you’ve been a victim of such an incident, knowing what to do next is crucial for your safety and legal rights. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to navigating the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Car accident statistics in Utah
  • Hit-and-Run Criminal Charges in Utah
  • Essential steps to take immediately following a hit-and-run
  • How to understand and exercise your legal rights as a victim
  • The significance of having a skilled personal injury attorney by your side

Keep reading to learn the necessary actions and legal pathways that can help you after a hit-and-run crash.

Car Accident Statistics in Utah

Utah Highway Patrol’s data claims that Utah witnessed a marginal decrease in total crashes in 2022, down to 55,299 from 55,756 in 2021. This slight improvement, however, was overshadowed by an alarming increase in fatal accidents. The year saw a 3% hike in fatal crashes across the state, a concerning trend despite the overall reduction in accidents.

On a positive note, highway crashes in 2022 reduced by 4.2%, totaling 15,642. More promising was the significant drop in wrong-way crashes, which fell by 12% statewide and 24% on highways. These figures indicate successful interventions in certain areas of road safety.

Utah’s law enforcement remained vigilant, particularly against DUIs and speeding. With 2,871 DUI cases and a staggering 124,860 speeding tickets, the focus was clear. Notably, over 5,000 tickets were issued for speeds surpassing 100 mph, highlighting the ongoing challenge of reckless driving.

While the reduction in overall and highway crashes is encouraging, the rise in fatal crashes and hit-and-run accidents presents a critical area for improvement. As Utah moves forward, enhancing road safety measures and continued enforcement will be key to ensuring safer journeys for all.

Hit-and-Run Criminal Charges in Utah

In Utah, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a serious offense as defined by Utah Code §41-6a-401. However, the seriousness of the offense, which may range from a misdemeanor to a felony charge, will depend on several factors. Each one is discussed in detail below.

For Property Damage: If a hit-and-run results only in property damage, it is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. This can lead to penalties including a jail sentence of up to six months and fines reaching $1,000.

Injury-Related Incidents: The situation escalates significantly if the hit-and-run involves personal injury. At a minimum, the offense rises to a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include up to one year in jail and fines of as much as $2,500.

Serious Injuries or Fatalities: If the hit-and-run accident results in serious bodily harm or death, the charge can be elevated to a third-degree felony. This carries even steeper penalties, potentially leading to five years in prison and fines up to $5,000.

Immediate Actions After a Hit-and-Run

The moments following a hit-and-run can be chaotic and confusing. However, your actions during this time are critical for your safety and any future legal claims. Here’s what to do immediately after a hit-and-run.

Prioritize Your Safety: If you’re injured or in danger, your first priority should be to move to a safe location and call for medical help.

Immediate Reporting to Police: When you have moved to safety, call 911 to start the process of filing a police report. Inform the police of any details you recall about the other vehicle, such as make, model, color, or partial license plate number. Remember to obtain a copy of the police report when complete, as you will need this for insurance claims and a lawsuit to recover losses.

Document the Scene of an accident: Use your smartphone to take pictures of your motor vehicle’s damage, the surrounding area, skid marks, and any debris from the hit-and-run vehicle. This visual evidence can be invaluable.

Seek Out Witnesses: Talk to people nearby who may have seen the incident. Their accounts can provide additional perspectives and details that you may have missed. Ask for their contact information as their testimony can be pivotal later.

Note Environmental Details: Record the time, weather conditions, and any other environmental factors. These can sometimes help in reconstructing the accident scene and understanding how the incident occurred.

Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, some injuries aren’t immediately apparent. A medical examination provides essential documentation for your injuries.

Reacting quickly and appropriately after a hit-and-run can significantly influence the outcome of your case. These steps are not just about immediate response but also about protecting your rights and interests in the long run.

Understanding Your Legal Rights

In Utah, victims of hit-and-run accidents have specific legal rights that are important to understand for effective recourse and compensation.

Utah’s No-Fault Insurance System: Utah operates under a no-fault insurance system. This means that after an accident, your own car insurance may cover medical expenses and lost income, regardless of who is at fault.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage: In cases of hit-and-run, uninsured motorist coverage can be a lifeline. It’s designed to cover what the at-fault driver’s insurance would have, had they been identified and insured.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit: If your damages exceed the limits of your insurance coverage, you may have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit. This could provide further compensation for extensive medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Utah’s Statute of Limitations: For personal injury claims in Utah, you typically have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. However, property damage claims might have a different time frame, usually three years.

General Damages: The damages one can receive for a hit-and-run claim include the following:

  • General Damages: Pain and suffering
  • Special Damages: Based on current, ongoing, and future medical expenses.

In some cases, if the hit-and-run driver is found, you might be eligible for punitive damages, especially if their actions were particularly reckless or malicious.

The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney

After a hit-and-run accident, having a personal injury attorney can be a game-changer. Their expertise not only simplifies the legal process but also maximizes your chances of receiving fair compensation.

Navigating Legal Complexities: A personal injury attorney understands the intricacies of hit-and-run cases. They can guide you through the legal maze, ensuring all necessary steps are taken for a strong case.

Dealing with Insurance Companies: Attorneys are adept at negotiating with insurance companies. They work to ensure that your claim is treated fairly and that you receive the maximum possible compensation.

Investigative Support: Attorneys often have resources to conduct thorough investigations, which can be crucial in hit-and-run cases where the perpetrator is not immediately known.

Representation in Court: If your case goes to trial, a skilled attorney is invaluable. They can represent your interests effectively, presenting your case in a compelling manner to the court.

The involvement of a personal injury attorney will help you with legal representation so you can have an advocate who is committed to protecting your rights and interests after a traumatic experience like a hit-and-run.

Dealing with the Aftermath of a Hit-and-Run

Dealing with the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident involves not just immediate actions and legal steps, but also considering the long-term implications.

Ongoing Medical Care: Some bodily injuries may require long-term treatment or rehabilitation. It’s important to consider these future medical needs when seeking compensation.

Psychological Impact: The trauma of a hit-and-run can lead to emotional and psychological challenges. Counseling or therapy may be necessary for a full recovery.

Financial Implications: Beyond immediate expenses, consider the long-term financial impact, such as loss of earning capacity or ongoing medical costs.

Future Legal Action: If new evidence emerges or the perpetrator is eventually identified, you may have additional legal avenues to explore.

Need Expert Legal Guidance? Contact Parker & McConkie

If you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you don’t have to face it alone. Parker & McConkie specializes in advocating for the rights of hit-and-run victims in Utah. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are well-versed in the complexities of Utah law and are dedicated to ensuring you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.

Don’t let the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident disrupt your life more than it already has. Take the first step towards recovery and justice. Call Parker & McConkie today for a free consultation where we’ll discuss your case and outline the best course of action tailored to your unique situation. Your path to legal resolution and peace of mind starts with a simple phone call.

Contact our Utah law firm now at (801) 616-3080 – Your ally in seeking justice and fair compensation.

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Schedule a Free Consultation Now By Contacting Our Team at (801) 980-9708