Hit and Run Claims
Hundreds of thousands of people are driving in Arizona on any given day. Some of those drivers are traveling to work, some are running errands, some are picking up their kids from practice, and some drive as part of their job duties. The majority of these trips begin and end without incident and the drivers continue on with their day.
However, some drivers are not that lucky and instead get in a motor vehicle accident that ruins their day. One of the most serious ways that an accident can go from bad to worse is when the at-fault driver doesn't stop and flees the scene. Our Phoenix hit and run accident lawyers assist in this type of crash regularly.
Accidents are relatively common in Arizona and across the nation, and some accidents result in vehicle damage only. However, when a more serious crash does occur, it often leaves drivers and passengers with serious injuries. And even worse, sometimes there are fatalities.
The experienced hit and run injury attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help you in your time of need. If you have injuries in an accident where a driver fled the scene, contact us today for a free consultation.Hit-and-Run Accident FAQ
Here are the answers to many common questions about hit and run accidents in Phoenix:
ADOT reports that in 2018, around 6.5% of people sustaining injuries in accidents were also hit and run victims. 3,348 victims were injured and 73 were killed.
The AAA Foundation reports that in 2015, 11.7% of all accidents across the nation were hit-and-runs. Drivers fleeing the scene were also the cause of 138,500 injuries and 1,819 fatalities.
According to Arizona law, a driver of a vehicle in an accident must immediately stop at the scene of the accident. He or she must stay there until the driver has fulfilled certain requirements. Those requirements, outlined in section 28-663 of Arizona Law, states that a driver involved in an accident must:
- Give their name, address and, registration information
- Show their driver's license, if asked
- Provide reasonable assistance to any person with injuries from the accident
This law is known as the "Duty to Give Information and Assistance" law. The intent is to ensure that everyone is safe and negligent drivers are held responsible.
Though this law is clear that drivers must stay, too often drivers flee the scene of an accident. They leave behind injury victims. The exceptions that apply to the law are narrow, generally only covering those who need immediate medical attention.
If a driver in an accident fails to stop and thus fails to obey the law, they may be guilty of a felony.
There are many different reasons that some drivers commit a hit and run after an accident. Many of these drivers are caught and often express the same excuses for their behavior, none of which justify leaving an injured victim behind without any medical help.
The some common reasons are fear of punishment, drunk driving, no auto insurance, and driving without a license.
Fear of Punishment
Among the most common reasons drivers say they leave an accident scene is because they fear punishment if the police know of their involvement in the crash.
This may seem like a reasonable motivation. However, the laws in Arizona punish a driver who leaves the scene of a crash much more severely than a driver who remains on scene and speaks with police. This means that a driver who flees and later is apprehended will face stricter penalties than one who stays at the scene.
Driving Under the Influence
Another common reason drivers leave an accident is because they are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the crash.
As Arizona has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation. Many drivers who are under the influence fear the penalties and believe that if they are not at the scene of the crash, police will not be able to prove they were DUI.
This also is a misguided belief. Police and prosecutors can calculate a level of intoxication at the time of a crash even if a suspect is apprehended some time after the impact.
In some cases, a drunk driver may not realize that he or she were in a collision. The motorist may flee a scene, believing that the car hit a tree or other object.
No Auto Insurance
Often, a driver is not in compliance with Arizona laws requiring automobile insurance. Therefore, the motorist chooses to flee instead of facing the consequences. A high percentage of hit-and-run drivers do not have auto insurance to cover the accident.
No Driver's License
Another reason drivers flee the scene of an accident is that they lack the required documentation to legally operate a car in Arizona. These drivers may not have a valid driver’s license or may not have their car registered with the state.
Regardless of whether a person is scared of the consequences, was driving drunk, or doesn't have driving privileges, leaving someone in a dangerous and serious situation is not only amoral, it's illegal and Arizona takes it seriously.
There are two broad types of hit-and-run accidents:
- The fleeing driver is caught
- The driver is never found
In either case, a victim of a crash have the right to a financial recovery for any damages from the accident.
When a fleeing driver is caught, a victim can bring a civil claim for monetary damages. They can do this against that driver’s insurance policy to obtain payment for any damages. For example, medical bills or lost wages.
Yes, a UM claim is a likely route to take after a hit-and-run accident. This is the type of insurance that may be available if a fleeing driver is never found. In these situations, a victim’s own insurance company will come in and “step into the shoes” of the at-fault driver, providing a source of financial recovery to the victim and the victim’s family.
If police are able to locate the hit-and-run driver, a UIM claim could also become an option. If that driver does not have enough insurance to fully compensate a victim, your lawyer can bring a claim against the victim’s own insurance company for the remainder owed. This is known as an underinsured claim and it is a provision of many Arizona insurance policies.
Many drivers who leave the scene of a crash are later identified and are brought to justice. This sometimes happens when there are eye witnesses or the driver leaves evidence at the scene.
Further, there are more and more security cameras placed outside businesses or on police cameras near the streets. These often catch an accident on video.
Also, an at-fault driver’s vehicle usually has damage after a crash. Friends or neighbors may realize that the car was in an accident and could report the damage to police.
Regardless of what evidence remains at the scene, police sometimes identify these offenders.
An auto accident is bad enough, but it's even worse if the defendant flees the scene. If you or your family member has been the victim of an accident, contact a Phoenix hit-and-run accident lawyer at Abels & Annes, P.C. today. We offer free consultations about your case and your legal rights. At Abels & Annes, P.C., we want to help. We have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.
If injured in a hit and run accident, call us today at (602) 819-5191 or contact us online for a free consultation.