The law requires that anyone who has been in an automobile collision in Washington, DC must stop. Not only can a driver be charged with a crime for failing to stop, but he or she may also be liable for any injuries. Unfortunately, many Washington, DC drivers flee the scene after a hit and run accident and leave the victims to suffer. In some cases, people die in these accidents.
Although the criminal courts take a grim view of Washington DC hit and run accidents, the civil courts also play a vital role in securing the justice that victims deserve. Let the team at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP review your case if you or a loved one were victimized by a hit and run driver.
Washington DC Hit And Run Laws
Anyone who operates a motor vehicle in Washington, DC and knows, or has reason to know, that he or she has been involved in a collision is required to immediately stop. The driver must also call 911 if someone has been injured and provide identifying information to law enforcement and the accident victim. During this time, the driver has to stay on the scene. There are similar rules concerning accidents that only cause property damage.
Only if the driver would be in danger by remaining on the scene is he or she allowed to leave, which is a narrow exception. Even then, the driver would need to call 911 as soon as it’s safe to do so. Being intoxicated or distracted at the time of the accident, or thinking the accident was not the driver’s fault, is not a justifiable reason to leave before law enforcement arrives.
Why Do Hit And Run Accidents Happen?
Part of recovering compensation after an automobile accident is laying out how the accident happened. The victim, in particular, is responsible for explaining the series of events that led to the hit and run. This step is critical in establishing liability, and an experienced accident attorney can help.
Some common reasons that hit and runs occur include:
- Distracted driving
- Intoxicated driving
- Inexperienced driving
- Poor visibility due to weather or time of day
- The driver is afraid of his or her insurance rates going up
- The driver has no insurance or license
- The driver is afraid of being arrested
- The driver was speeding or violating other laws
Although there’s no excuse short of an emergency for fleeing the scene of an accident, drivers often give a number of reasons for why they do so. In some cases, law enforcement is able to apprehend the driver and find out why he or she left. Identifying the driver’s motive for leaving can strengthen your civil case.
Steps To Take If You’re A Washington DC Hit And Run Victim
If you’re a driver, pedestrians, or someone else involved in an automobile accident and the driver failed to stop, it’s important to act fast.
First, call 911 and get immediate medical assistance. This is true even if your injuries are not life-threatening or you don’t believe you are injured. Often, victims do not realize how seriously they are injured until hours or days later. Failure to obtain medical attention can aggravate those injuries. It can also make it more difficult to receive compensation later, because the at-fault driver could argue that you worsened your injuries by not seeing a doctor.
Next, speak to law enforcement as soon as possible. You should make a police report and get a copy of it. Police reports contain important factual information about accidents and act as official records that may be used in a later civil trial. Provide as many details as you can about the accident and the driver to law enforcement. Let the police do their jobs; do not try to pursue the driver yourself.
Then, start collecting your own evidence to the extent it doesn’t interfere with law enforcement’s investigation. Write down as much as you can remember about the driver, the vehicle and details surrounding the accident. Speak to witnesses on the scene, find out what they know, and get their names and contact information. Take pictures or video of the accident scene, your vehicle, and your own injuries.
Finally, retain a skilled Washington DC hit and run accident attorney.
Victims of hit and run wrecks will incur a number of expenses and losses that they should not be responsible for. Among the most common are:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Prescription drug medications
- Lost income due to recovery
- Lost earning capacity if they cannot work the same jobs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
An attorney can help you demand these and other damages from the at-fault driver. Although this is more challenging with a hit and run, it can be done.
How To Get Compensation
If the police are able to locate the hit-and-run driver, the victim can pursue that individual for damages like those listed above. Finding the hit-and-run driver can be difficult, but you have options. For example, there may be surveillance or dashcam footage from cameras in the area or from other drivers. Someone, including you, may have gotten the driver’s license plate number or other identifying information.
Where the driver can’t be found, injured drivers can turn to their own uninsured motorist (UM) insurance policy to be compensated. Dealing with the insurance company, even your own, can be frustrating. But the right attorney will have experience handling these issues.
Contact Our Washington DC Hit And Run Accident Attorney
The personal injury lawyers of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP have helped countless hit and run accident victims by working to locate drivers and hold them accountable. We have also worked with victims to win compensation from their own UM policies. You have legal options, and we’re here to discuss them with you. Give us a call today.
Koonz McKenney Johnson & Depaolis serve residents of Washington DC including those living in Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights, Downtown District of Columbia, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, and Mount Vernon.