How to Prove Fault for a Hit and Run
A hit-and-run accident can happen in many ways. Some of these incidents happen in active traffic, with at-fault drivers fleeing the scene immediately. Others occur involving parked vehicles, and at-fault drivers simply leave without leaving a note for the struck vehicle’s owner or attempting to find them. Either situation is illegal, and the at-fault driver faces criminal charges for hit and run as well as civil liability for the victim’s damages.
If you experience a hit-and-run accident while you are in your vehicle, you should try to record as much information as you can about the driver who hit you and your vehicle, if possible. You should report the accident to 911 immediately and provide the police with the best possible description of the at-fault driver’s vehicle. They may not be able to locate them immediately, but providing this information while your memory is fresh increases the chances of the police locating the at-fault driver in a timely fashion.
You should seek medical care as soon as possible after your accident, and once you address your medical needs and obtain a copy of the police report for the accident you should reach out to a Los Angeles hit-and-run accident attorney immediately. Your attorney can coordinate with law enforcement if necessary to help locate the at-fault driver and hold them accountable for your damages. Eyewitness testimony, traffic camera recordings, and other evidence can all come into play to help you prove fault.
Filing an Auto Insurance Claim for Your Accident
After locating the at-fault driver and proving they are responsible for the accident, the state will proceed with prosecuting them in criminal court for their hit-and-run violation. In the meantime, you can proceed with your recovery efforts, which are likely to start with a claim against their auto insurance policy. Every driver is required to have auto insurance, and their insurance must meet basic coverage requirements. However, if you suffered serious injuries in your hit-and-run accident, the at-fault driver’s coverage may not be enough to fully cover your losses. It is also possible they may not have insurance at all, which is a commonly reported reason that many hit-and-run drivers flee the scenes of the accidents they cause.
Your Los Angeles hit-and-run accident attorney can guide you through the insurance claim filing process. They will help complete the required claim forms and gather any supporting information you need to provide to the insurance carrier for them to process your claim. When they deliver their claim determination, your attorney can ensure it is fair under the terms of the at-fault driver’s policy.
Building Your Personal Injury Suit for a Hit-and-Run Accident in Los Angeles
After exhausting your recovery options through insurance, any outstanding damages can be sought with a personal injury claim in Los Angeles. Once the at-fault driver is identified, the state will manage the criminal case against them, the outcome of which could influence your final case award. While the criminal case progresses, your attorney can help you file your civil suit against the at-fault driver, seeking compensation for any damages their insurance couldn’t cover.
California’s personal injury laws allow the plaintiff in a personal injury case to claim compensation for:
- Property damage. The defendant is liable for all property losses they inflicted that their insurance cannot compensate. These may include vehicle repair or replacement costs as well as the cost of replacing any of your personal property lost in the accident.
- Medical expenses. When you have suffered injuries due to a defendant’s actions, they are liable for the cost of any medical care you need to reach maximum medical improvement from your injuries. This includes both immediate and long-term expenses if your injuries require extensive rehabilitative care.
- Lost income. If a plaintiff is unable to work because of their injuries, the defendant who injured them is liable for the income the plaintiff is unable to earn while they recover. This rule applies to lost future earning capacity as well, if a plaintiff’s future earning power is diminished due to the severity of their injuries.
The average person should be able to calculate immediately recognizable damages, such as the cost of repairing or replacing their vehicle and all the medical care they require. However, accurately assessing the full long-term impact of a hit-and-run accident is more challenging and will require the help of an experienced attorney. Additionally, the plaintiff has the right to claim pain and suffering compensation alongside their claimed economic damages.
Attorneys in Los Angeles generally use two methods to calculate pain and suffering compensation for their clients. First is the multiplier method, used when a client has suffered permanent harm of some kind. The attorney assesses the total of their claimable economic damages and then multiplies this amount by a factor that represents the severity of their condition, usually one to five. Second is the per diem method, which is more applicable to plaintiffs expected to make full recoveries from their injuries. The attorney sets a daily compensation amount to reflect the severity of the plaintiff’s pain in recovery and then multiplies this amount by the number of days it takes them to reach maximum medical improvement.
Variables That May Influence Your Final Case Award in a Hit-and-Run Accident Claim
There is no limit on pain and suffering compensation in most personal injury cases, so if you suffered extreme injuries in your recent hit-and-run accident, the pain and suffering compensation you secure may overshadow the total of your other claimed damages. Your recovery may also increase due to punitive damages, which a judge may award at their discretion when a defendant’s behavior exceeds the scope of standard negligence or when they have injured a plaintiff through illegal action. It is also possible for the judge handling the defendant’s criminal case to include restitution to the victim as one of their penalties.
Conversely, one issue that might arise and diminish your recovery would be comparative fault. California enforces a pure comparative negligence rule, meaning it is possible for a plaintiff to share fault for their personal injury and still recover compensation. However, they will have a fault percentage assigned to them to reflect their level of liability, and then this percentage is taken from their final case award. For example, if a plaintiff is assigned 10% fault, they will lose 10% of the total compensation recovered from the defendant.
Ultimately, hit-and-run drivers typically flee the results of their actions due to fear of liability, and this choice often costs them much more than they would have faced had they immediately taken responsibility for their actions. At Easton & Easton, we know how frustrating it can be to face the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident, and we have the experience necessary to help our client navigate their case with confidence and peace of mind. You have a limited time in which to pursue your recovery after this type of accident, so it is crucial for you to reach out to legal counsel you can trust as soon as possible.
Car Accidents FAQs
Q: Can I Sue for a Hit and Run?
A: Yes, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages from the driver responsible for the hit and run you experienced. However, you must first identify and locate the at-fault driver. Your Los Angeles hit-and-run accident attorney can work with local law enforcement and gather evidence needed to prove fault for the incident. The illegal nature of the defendant’s actions may enhance your final recovery in the form of punitive damages and/or restitution.
Q: How Much Is My Accident Claim Worth in Los Angeles?
A: The total potential value of any civil suit in Los Angeles hinges on the scope of the plaintiff’s damages. State law grants the plaintiff the right to seek full repayment of all economic losses they suffered, such as their vehicle repair costs, medical bills, and lost wages following the accident. They can also seek pain and suffering compensation, and if the defendant caused the accident through some illegal action they are likely to face punitive damages as well. Your Los Angeles hit-and-run accident attorney can give you an estimate of your case’s total potential value.
Q: What Should You Do First After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Los Angeles?
A: Proving fault for the accident will be crucial, so you should try to record as much as you can remember about the at-fault driver and their vehicle if you are able to do so. If you were severely hurt and do not remember exactly how your accident happened, it is important to consult a Los Angeles hit-and-run accident attorney as soon as possible after you receive medical attention. They can help you build the foundation of your case and identify the driver responsible for your damages.
Q: Will I Win a Larger Settlement if I Hire a Los Angeles Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney?
A: Hiring reliable legal counsel is the optimal method of enhancing your final case award. You may be entitled to claim more compensation than you may initially expect, and the right attorney will know how to unlock the full potential of your claim. Even after you account for the cost of hiring your attorney, they can make a tremendous difference in the final outcome of your case.
Q: How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Los Angeles Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney?
A: The attorneys at Easton & Easton aim to make legal counsel as accessible as possible to those who need it most. We take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, so our client is only required to pay a percentage of their final case award as our fee, and we only take this fee if and when we win their case. This prevents legal expenses from overshadowing the client’s recovery, allowing them to approach their case proceedings with peace of mind.
The attorneys at Easton & Easton have extensive professional experience handling all types of vehicle accident claims on behalf of clients throughout Los Angeles. We take time to learn each client’s unique needs and concerns, creating an individualized legal strategy for each client we represent. If you believe you have grounds for legal recourse after a hit-and-run accident in Los Angeles, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with a Los Angeles hit-and-run accident attorney you can trust.