What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Hit and Run Accident
A hit-and-run accident can be devastating. In addition to the pain and suffering that come from being involved in a serious accident, you are in the difficult position of lacking the information you need about the negligent driver who caused the crash.
Hit-and-run accidents are rising in frequency in New York and across the country. It is important to have an experienced Binghamton hit-and-run accident lawyer on your side if you are involved in a serious collision.
How Common Are Hit and Run Accidents?
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents happen much too often in Binghamton and surrounding areas of New York. According to an article in USA Today, hit-and-run accidents and fatalities have risen dramatically in recent years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the following data about hit-and-run accidents, showing that these crashes are on an upward trend:
- In 2009, a total of 1,274 fatal hit-and-run accidents were reported.
- By 2010, that number rose to 1,393.
- In 2011, NHTSA reported 1,449 hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. alone.
Over that period of three years, hit-and-run deaths rose by 13.7 percent. This notable rise in fatalities occurred at a time when general traffic-related deaths fell by about 4.5 percent. According to Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “The problem [with hit-and-run accidents] is bigger than I think most people are aware.”
Who is at greatest risk of injury in a hit-and-run collision?
Pedestrians tend to be at highest risk of being killed by a hit-and-run driver. Indeed, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety identified pedestrians as 60 percent of hit-and-run fatality victims. That number, too, has grown dramatically over the last couple of decades. In the early 2000s, an article in The New York Times reported that pedestrian deaths made up about 12 percent of all auto accident fatalities. NHTSA’s National Pedestrian Crash Report emphasizes the severity of these crashes and their impacts on pedestrians across the country.
What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Hit and Run in New York
Pedestrians often are the ones who suffer serious and fatal injuries in hit-and-run accidents. Many of these collisions are preventable. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety emphasizes that alcohol plays a major role in hit-and-run deaths.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run collision, what should you do? At the law firm of Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, we know that being involved in an accident can be extremely disorienting. But if you are able to follow these steps, you may be more likely to recover damages.
Important Steps to Take After a Hit and Run Accident
- Call 911. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident and you are able to call for help, do so immediately.
- Remain at the scene of the accident. If a hit-and-run driver strikes you, do not attempt to chase the vehicle. Stay at the scene and wait for law enforcement officials and emergency medical responders.
- Make notes. If you are able, write down a description of the hit-and-run driver’s car. If you spotted any numbers on the license plate, write those down, too. In short, note any details that you can remember about the vehicle or the driver.
- Get witnesses’ details. If anyone else saw the accident happen, be sure to write down witness contact information before you leave the scene. A witness report can be extremely helpful for the police, in addition to a claim you may file in the future.
- If you or a household member own a vehicle, contact your own insurance company. Your insurer likely requires that you report the accident within a certain period of time after an accident. When you call, do not say anything about how the crash happened until you have gotten help from an attorney.
- Contact a New York hit-and-run accident attorney. You will need an advocate on your side throughout this difficult process. Remember: your insurance company does not have your best interests at heart. An experienced lawyer can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Damages You Can Recover After an Accident
After a hit-and-run accident, you may be eligible for a variety of damages. Compensatory damages are those aimed at compensating you for your losses. They come in two forms:
- Economic damages, which compensate you for quantifiable losses like medical bills or lost wages; and
- Non-economic damages, which compensate you for losses that do not necessarily have an objective dollar figure, such as pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
An experienced accident lawyer can help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Proving the Identity of the Driver of the Car Who Hit You
Proving the identity of the driver who hit you can be a difficult process. It is important to record any information you remember from the accident, but it is also essential that you work with an experienced accident lawyer who can help to build your case.
Benefits from Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Hit and Run
If you are a resident of New York at the time of a hit-and-run accident, you can apply for benefits through uninsured motorist coverage. Specifically, the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Act (NYIL §5102) allows pedestrians and bicyclists to apply for benefits by filing an uninsured motorist claim.
Consequences of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New York
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense in New York. Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law §600, leaving the scene of an accident in which someone suffers a personal injury can constitute a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the accident. If someone leaves the scene of an accident in which serious physical injury occurred, that person can be subject to the following charge:
- Class E felony, punishable by a fine of at least $1,000 but not more than $5,000, as well as any other penalties available under the law.
If someone leaves the scene of an accident in which someone suffers fatal injuries, the hit-and-run driver can be subject to the following charge:
- Class D felony, punishable by a fine of at least $2,000 but not more than $5,000, as well as any other penalties available under the law.
Contact a Binghamton Hit and Run Lawyer
At the law office of Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, we understanding the complications inherent in dealing with a hit-and-run accident claim, and we are here to help. You should not attempt to deal with this process on your own, especially when you are suffering the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of another driver’s recklessness.
A dedicated Binghamton hit-and-run lawyer can answer your questions and advocate for your rights. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.