A hit-and-run is when a vehicle hits another car, person, or even an object but then drives away without the at-fault driver stopping to provide contact information/insurance details. Damage and injuries caused by hit-and-run crashes are, unfortunately, more common than one thinks. The reasons for fleeing the scene of a car accident usually have to do with the impaired driver, driving without insurance, or another illicit action, to name a few.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency’s 2020 report (NHTSA p. 18) presents these hit-and-run statistics:
A few years earlier, the NHTSA determined that, on average, a hit-and-run crash happens in the United States every 43 seconds.
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.
Being involved in an accident is stressful in and of itself. Being involved in a hit-and-run adds overwhelming frustration, anxiety, and worry.
The facts surrounding each car crash vary and are often unique, so it is essential to know what to do if a hit-and-run driver has injured you or damaged your property. Our experienced Car accident attorneys at Parker + McConkie can help sort through the details of the incident and help you to understand how relevant Utah laws apply.
Leaving the scene of an accident has serious legal consequences in Utah.
Utah Law requires a driver aware of a potential accident to complete the above-noted requirements before leaving the scene. A hit-and-run accident in Utah is a class B misdemeanor.
The penalties may be up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. The at-fault driver may also owe the victim damages for the injuries or harm perpetrated by the actions of that responsible driver.
The other potential penalties for violating the Utah hit-and-run laws vary and include the following:
A third-degree felony carries up to 5 years of prison time and a maximum $5,000 fine.
If you are involved in a car accident, and the offending driver leaves the scene, the first thing to do is ensure you and others are safe, and no one is injured. Move carefully and cautiously until you get your bearings and review each in-the-moment concern.
When you have moved to safety, call 911 to start the process of filing a police report.
While you wait for the police to get to the accident scene, safely observe. If possible, jot down specifics that may be difficult to remember later – after the initial shock has worn off. The more details you can identify, the easier it is to investigate the case later.
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.
While it may seem like the right idea to pursue a driver that has fled, it is ill-advised.
First, if the accident was minor, the driver may honestly not know. However, most hit-and-run drivers leave an accident scene for more nefarious reasons. The driver may be driving on a suspended license, with no tags or without insurance. Also, maybe intoxicated or running from an even more serious crime. The fleeing car could also be a stolen one.
If you can move the car safely, move it to the closest location that does not disrupt traffic. Use the shoulder, off-ramp, or even a side street. If you can safely provide aid and assistance to someone in need, you must do so.
At and after the accident, continue to note all recollections about the driver and car that left the scene. A partial license plate number could help identify the driver who fled the scene.
While the police are investigating crimes, they have limited resources. Therefore, contacting a Utah hit-and-run accident lawyer is vital because you deserve the benefits and guidance a trusted and experienced attorney offers.
Reaching for justice after a hit-and-run accident requires several tasks. A Utah hit-and-run lawyer can help you see the overall picture and understand the details involved in an investigation, evidence gathering, civil procedure rules, and how settlements are negotiated or litigated.
If you have been in a hit-and-run accident, you will not have enough information to file a personal injury claim until you identify the fleeing driver. So, it is in your best interest to facilitate the process of determining the offender that fled.
Hit-and-run claims are typically the same as uninsured driver claims. The damage might be covered if the insured elected uninsured motorist coverage, collision, or a no-fault insurance policy.
Sometimes even if the insurance coverage applies, you may need legal guidance to negotiate a fair offer.
Building a solid personal injury case requires skill, experience, and the ongoing collection of the evidence noted above. Our skilled Utah hit-and-run attorneys at Parker + McConkie can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
The impact can have lasting and devastating effects on many car accident victims. The damages one can receive for a hit-and-run claim include the following:
Let our 40+ years of experience at Parker + McConkie Personal Injury Lawyers evaluate your case for free and then guide you to the case’s most favorable outcome. Contact us at (801) 616-3080 or visit our website for a live chat today!
Call 801-845-0440 to get in touch with a member of our firm after your accident. We can review your case for free!