When a driver fails to stop his vehicle after a collision, he has violated California laws prohibiting hit-and-run accidents. As a crash victim involved in a hit and run, you need to ensure you protect yourself when a driver leaves the accident scene. This means knowing how to handle a hit and run claim. An experienced legal professional can provide you with advice on how you should respond when a driver hits you and leaves the scene.
After a collision, you should contact the local police or the California Highway Patrol (CHP). An accident also has to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of the time of the collision if anyone gets hurt or killed or if damage to any involved vehicle totals $750 or more. Form SR-1 Report of Traffic Accident is the form to alert the DMV to a crash. It can be obtained from CHP, an insurance company, or the police. Drivers should stop at the collision scene, exchange information, alert their insurers and make appropriate reports to the police and DMV.
How to Handle a Hit and Run Claim
If you have become involved in a hit-and-run, alert the police right away. A law enforcement officer can conduct an investigation to try to find the driver who has broken the law and left the crash scene. If the driver is identified, he can be charged with a crime and the police will provide you with his information so you can try to pursue a claim for compensation from him. To pursue a claim, you will need to be able to show the driver was the one who left the crash scene, and will need to prove the driver was responsible for the collision.
If the driver is caught but does not have insurance, it can be difficult for you to actually recover compensation from him. This is true even in situations where you are successfully able to make a damage claim. The driver may not have sufficient funds to pay for your damages and losses if he does not have a liability insurance policy. California requires a minimum of $15,000 in liability coverage for injuries and $30,000 per accident in liability coverage as well as $5,000 in property damage coverage. If a driver does not have this and does not have money, then you may be unable to actually enforce a court judgment against him.
If the driver is not caught or if the driver has no insurance coverage or money to pay you, your best option may be to see if you can recover compensation from your own insurance provider. Uninsured motorist coverage can provide you with money for accident losses that occur in a hit-and-run. Your insurer stands in for the driver who should be paying your losses. Uninsured motorist coverage is not a required purchase in the state of California, so it is possible you may not have this coverage. Speaking with an experienced Irvine car accident attorney can help ensure your rights are protected.