More than 200,000 car accidents occur on California roadways every year. A growing number of these accidents involve hit-and-runs. The state experiences 17% of all the hit-and-run accidents in the U.S., and these types of accidents cause more than 3,000 deaths every year.
Defining hit and runs
Hit-and-runs occur when someone flees the scene after their vehicle hits another person or object. These factors must exist for an accident to be considered a hit-and-run:
- The vehicle must have hit another vehicle, personal property or person.
- The driver does not make contact with the other party.
- In the case of damaged property, the driver fails to leave a note that allows for contact.
Misdemeanor vs. felony
Many incidents of hit-and-run accidents result in misdemeanor charges. However, if the car accident resulted in injury or death, California Penal Code §20001 allows the prosecutor to charge them with felony hit and run.
In the state of California, the penalties for a hit-and-run charge may result in the following:
- Up to $10,000 in fines for misdemeanor or felony charges.
- A year in jail for a misdemeanor
- 16 months to three years in prison for a felony charge.
- Two to four years in prison if the victim suffered death or a permanent injury
- Driver’s license suspension
- Civil lawsuits
Steps to take after a hit and run
In the aftermath of a hit-and-run, you may feel helpless. But you can take these important steps to help protect your property and your health:
- Call 911 immediately if you need medical help.
- Call the police so they can take a report.
- If you are able, obtain the contact information of any witnesses.
- Contact your insurance company.
In the aftermath of a hit-and-run, you need to take steps to report the accident. Failing to do so could potentially impact your future claims for compensation. For further information or a free consultation, please feel free to contact The Law Office of Aman N. Shah.