A California hit and run accident can leave you feeling lost and hopeless, especially if you or a loved one suffered serious injuries as a result. However, with help from an experienced Ventura car accident lawyer, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills and other losses.
What to Do if You or a Family Member Got Hurt in a California Hit and Run Accident
California’s traffic laws require the driver to remain at the scene when he or she causes an auto accident resulting in wrongful death or personal injury. If this occurs, the driver has a legal duty to disclose their name, address, and vehicle registration number. The driver is also responsible for notifying the police and calling 9-1-1, or otherwise providing “reasonable assistance” for the victim. If the victim asks, the driver must also display his or her driver’s license.
Most motorists comply with these requirements. Unfortunately, there will always be a few drivers who think they can avoid taking legal and financial responsibility by fleeing the scene of the accident, which is a serious crime colloquially known as “hit and run.”
Hit and run can lead to severe criminal penalties for the driver if he or she is identified. But what should the victim do in the meantime?
- After you are injured in a hit and run accident – or, for that matter, any type of car or truck accident in Ventura – getting to safety should be your first concern. Carefully remove yourself from path of any oncoming traffic.
- If your phone is still in usable condition after the impact, call 9-1-1 right away, even if you do not feel you have been seriously injured. The adrenaline released in an emergency situation can temporarily block the pain from a severe injury, making you think you are in better physical condition than you actually are. Moreover, there are some injuries, such as whiplash, which can take several hours or days to manifest. It is critical that you receive medical attention as soon as possible following a traffic accident.
- If you are able to do so, take down the contact information of any people who witnessed the accident occur.
- Immediately record any information that could later help identify the driver. Even if you did not see the entire license plate number, other identifying details such as dents, scratches, vehicle modifications, decals, or bumper stickers can potentially be useful for the police. It is very difficult to clearly photograph a hit and run driver who is speeding away, but if you can do so without putting yourself in harm’s way, try to take pictures or video if possible.
- Notify your insurance company that you were the victim of a hit and run accident. Every crash and collision should be reported to your insurance company promptly. Do not try to fill in details you cannot clearly remember, and do not feel pressured to downplay the severity of your pain and injuries. Simply stick to the known facts.
- After making scans for your own personal records, submit completed copies of the following forms to the DMV:
- SR-1 – Use this form to report a vehicular accident in California. It asks you to supply basic insurance and accident information, such as the time and location of the crash.
- SR-19 – SR-19 is also called a Financial Responsibility Information Request. You can use Form SR-19 to demonstrate that you were unable to identify or establish contact with the driver who hit you.
- Contact a Ventura crime victim lawyer who has experience handling hit and run claims. Compensation may be available, but it can be exceptionally difficult to successfully navigate the fine print of complex insurance policies, especially when you are trying to make a physical recovery from a catastrophic injury. An attorney can help take care of your legal work while protecting your financial interests, working persistently to maximize the value of your claim.
Review Your Oxnard Hit and Run Injury Claim with a Ventura Car Accident Lawyer
If you were not at fault for your accident, you should not be made to carry the full financial burden of your hospital bills and other expenses. Do not give up on getting compensated for a hit and run injury in California just because you do not know the driver’s identity. Hit and run drivers are considered uninsured motorists (UM), and depending on the situation, you may be able to get compensated through your own insurer if you purchased UM coverage.
Compensation may be available, but insurance companies often try to make low-ball offers that leave victims without the financial security they need and deserve for their medical care and other losses. When dealing with an insurance company – even your own – it is absolutely vital that you are represented by a tough and aggressive attorney who is highly familiar with California’s complex auto insurance and accident liability laws.
With over 20 years of experience representing injury victims in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County, the Ventura auto accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC are well-prepared to help determine whether you could have a personal injury claim. To talk about your claim in a free and confidential legal consultation, call our law offices right away at (805) 585-5056.