Brad Pistotnik Law
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Hit-and-Run Accidents Are At a Record High

Hit-and-Run Accidents Are At a Record High

How often do hit-and-run accidents happen and should drivers be concerned that record rates of these accidents are being recorded? What are the penalties that hit-and-run drivers face when they are caught and brought to justice? In 2016, 2049 individuals died in hit-and-run accidents in the United States. This was a 62% increase over the number killed by hit-and-run drivers in 2009. Since 2009, the number of accidents involving drivers who flee the scene of an accident has risen steadily. The rising rates and risk of serious injury highlight the importance of vigilance on each and every trip down the road. As more and more drivers and pedestrians are injured and killed, the public needs to be on high alert.

Hit-and-Run at a Glance

Of those who die in fatal hit-and-run accidents, 65% are pedestrians. Over the past 10 years, 20% of all pedestrian fatalities have involved a hit-and-run driver. By comparison, only 1% of fatal accidents involve a hit-and-run driver. Most of these accidents occur between midnight and 4 a.m.. Reasons for the increased risk during this time include limited visibility, alcohol consumption, weather, and the increased likelihood of pedestrians jaywalking during these hours.

Investigating Hit-and-Run Accidents

All hit-and-run accidents should be reported to law enforcement immediately. The more evidence you can collect and secure at the time of the accident, the greater the likelihood of finding the offender. This includes video footage, photographs, and eyewitness statements that can be used to identify the driver. Most investigations take between a week and ten days to conclude. This timeframe depends heavily on the evidence that is available.

Criminal and Civil Penalties for Fleeing the Scene of an Accident

Hit-and-run drivers are not only liable for civil damages, they can face serious criminal penalties as well. Depending on the state, these include misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $20,000. A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to 3 months in prison for a first offense. If the individual is convicted of felony hit-and-run, they can face a prison sentence of up to 15 years in prison. There are also administrative penalties that can include license revocation for up to 3 years.

When the responsible driver is found, individuals can pursue civil damages against them. This can be done at the same time as the guilty party faces potential criminal liability. These include compensation for medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, etc.

Some states also award treble damages, which means the judge has the discretion to award up to three times what the jury awards. In states where statutes allow treble damages, the judge will closely examine any reckless or egregious conduct on the part of the responsible party when making their decision.

Brad Pistotnik Law is a Wichita law firm that represents clients in Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Florida, Missouri, and Illinois who are injured in a hit-and-run accident. Contact us today to learn more about your rights and the compensation you are entitled to pursue.