What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Hit-and-run accidents are when a driver of a vehicle flees the scene without giving any information about themselves after hitting private property such as cars or bicycles, or worse, a person. Hit-and-run accidents are on a steady rise.
Similar to hit-and-run accidents are phantom vehicles. Phantom vehicles are unidentified cars that the leave the scene of a crime. A phantom vehicle has to be confirmed by another witness besides the victim. Phantom vehicles are often unaware of their negligence. However, they will still be charged for the damages their actions have caused.
There are several reasons why an individual might choose to leave the scene of a crime. According to a recent article by NBC, “It comes down to a lack of empathy.” Individuals who hit another person might believe that the victim was in the way or that the victim should have been paying attention to the traffic.
Other reasons why people leave the scene includes: intoxication, drugs, unlicensed, or texting. Regardless of the circumstances, hit-and-run accidents are morally wrong and contain legal repercussions.
What To Do if You are Involved in a Hit-and-Run?
- Makes sure that you stop your vehicle as soon as you are able. Make sure you are in a safe location, away from oncoming traffic.
- Assess that no one is injured. If someone sustains an injury, call law enforcement immediately. If there appears to be substantial property damage ($1,000 or more), call law enforcement immediately.
- If no one is injured, exchange contact information. Make sure to get the drivers name, address, insurance provider, and car registration number.
- If there is no other driver in the case of a collision, the individual who caused the collision is required to leave a note that lists his or her name, address, and registration number of the vehicle that caused the damage.
Legal Consequences in the State of Utah
- If the driver does not stop in the event of a collision that involves property damage, they will be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, which can be a sentence of up to six months in jail.
- If the driver does not stop in the event of a collision with a pedestrian that results in injury or death, he or she will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor which can be a sentence of up to a year and a $750 fine.
How Does the Victim Get Covered if the Culprit is Never Found?
If the hit-and-run driver or phantom vehicle are never identified, the damages will be covered by your own insurance under uninsured motorist coverage.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured Motorist Coverage pays for medical expenses and property damage when the at-fault driver does not have insurance. Although this type of insurance is optional, it is important to have adequate uninsured motorist coverage in the case that you get hit by uninsured drivers or if the driver leaves the scene.
What Christensen & Hymas is Doing
Individuals who are guilty of a hit-and-run deserve to be brought to justice. If you or someone you know is a witness to a hit-and-run, they are encouraged to call the “We Tip” crime hotline at 1-800-644-8674.
Christensen & Hymas will offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrests and convictions of hit-and-run drivers.