The stories and reports of hit and run accidents across the United States and specifically Orange County, California, abound. Elderly grandmothers, bicyclists, school children, joggers, and so many others have been hurt or killed in hit-and-run accidents. Each of these events have been perpetrated by career criminals, intoxicated drivers, and in one case, a former mayor. No matter who is hit and who does the hitting, it is clear that even one incident is one too many.
Hit and Run Accidents Defined
In the event of a hit-and-run, drivers are legally obligated to stop their vehicles, identify themselves to the parties they injured, and exchange insurance information. Individuals who do not adhere to these laws can be penalized under the law. In general, hit-and-run accidents can be divided into either misdemeanors or felonies.
A hit-and-run in which the offending driver stops their car immediately after the accident has occurred, discloses their identifying information, such as name and address, to the parties involved, and shares insurance information and their driver's license, is classified as a misdemeanor. These types of misdemeanor accidents include damage to people, personal property, animals, and ironically, traffic signs and signals.
Unlike a misdemeanor hit- and- run, felony hit – and- runs result in significant injury or death. Additionally, there is no swapping of drivers license, identification or insurance information. Victims are left unattended by the drivers who hit them, and not provided with their care, concern, and dignity they need.
Why do Hit and Run Accidents Occur?
It is easy to explain hit-and-runs as the actions of unfeeling and evil individuals. And truth be told, that is sometimes the case. But there are other reasons, albethey unpleasant, that lead some drivers to leave the scene of their crime.
For individuals who know they have hit someone or something, fear can literally be the driving force that makes them run. Perhaps it's the fear of knowing they may have killed someone. And perhaps it is a fear of the penalties they will face if they are caught. Anyway you look at it, fear is a pretty poor excuse for running, but it is one that is used.
Driver Unaware They Hit Someone
Drivers who are distracted, oblivious to their surroundings, or deep in thought, may not even be aware that they have hit someone. This is both terribly unfortunate and shocking at the very least.
Driver Under the Influence
Individuals who are intoxicated, medicated, or exhausted should, under no circumstances, be behind the wheel of a car. And yet, there are drunk, high, and fatigued drivers who are unaware of their dangerous driving and the risks they present to everyone, including themselves.
Fleeing From Arrest
Parolees, undocumented citizens, and criminals trying to avoid getting caught may speed away from the person or things they have hit because they know that once they are caught, they will be sent to jail. Fleeing probable arrest for the sake of definitive arrest is illogical and lawless.
Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident
Victims who survive a hit- and- run may be left with lifelong, chronic injuries, and inability to work, damaged property, medical bills, and emotional devastation.
Drivers who perpetrate hit- and- runs may also suffer injury and disabilities, as well as emotional trauma. What they are likely to face as well though, are fines and the revocation of their drivers license. Offenders can also be fined and sent to jail for one to four years, depending on the severity of the accident and the driver's criminal past.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Hit-and-runs can be devastating, and destroy lives as well as the ability to trust others. If you are ever involved in a hit- and- run in Orange County, you need to contact Timothy J. Ryan and Associates. As attorneys who are knowledgeable of the ins and outs of both misdemeanor and felony hit- and- runs, they will work with you, compassionately determine how to proceed, and always have your back.