Many of our San Diego readers have probably been in a car accident before – hopefully minor ones. And, in the aftermath of these run-of-the-mill fender-benders, most people know what their obligations are. The drivers must pull off to the side of the road, if possible, in order to minimize the negative impact of the auto accident on the flow of traffic. From there, the two drivers, no matter who they believe was at fault for the accident, will typically need to exchange insurance information and contact the local police so that an accident report can be made. In the end, the insurance for one of the drivers will typically pay for the damages involved.
Unfortunately, in a hit and run accident this type of information exchange obviously does not occur. A hit and run accident can have serious implications, both for the driver at fault and the driver who was the victim. For the victim, it could become much harder to track down the liable party in order to pursue a civil lawsuit to seek compensation. How can the victim find the liable driver when that person has fled the scene of the car accident?
The obvious first step is to contact law enforcement officials so that a criminal investigation can begin. Eyewitnesses could be available to give a description of the vehicle and the driver or, with any luck, any information from the vehicle’s license plate. Police officers will also look at where the victim’s vehicle was struck, seeking to obtain any paint samples that could indicate the color of the liable driver’s vehicle and what portion of that vehicle made contact with the victim’s vehicle.
If the liable driver is eventually tracked down, that person will probably face both criminal and civil actions in court. The fact that the driver left the scene after an accident will likely exacerbate the ultimate penalty in both cases.