What happens in California if a hit and run driver can't be found?

November 17, 2022
Barrios Machado

What happens in California if a hit and run driver can't be found?Finding your broken side-view mirror hanging or noticing a huge dent or scratch on the body of your parked vehicle is one of the most unpleasant experiences you can have. Even worse is if you don't find a note from whoever committed this offense. When this happens, it means that you were unfortunately involved in a hit-and-run accident.

A Hit-and-Run Accident: What Is It Exactly?

A driver is guilty of a hit-and-run when they:

  • Injure someone, cause damage to a vehicle, or destroy someone's private property.
  • Avoid introducing themselves to the other parties.
  • “Run” or leave an accident scene without alerting the police or leaving a note on the damaged property or car.

What Should You Do If You're a Hit-and-Run Victim?

You need to know what to do if a hit-and-run driver caused you harm or property damage. Take these actions:

  • Start by phoning 9-1-1 to request emergency medical assistance if you are hurt.
  • If not, immediately call the police. After documenting everything that happened, they can start looking for the motorist who was responsible for the damage.
  • Try to acquire the names and phone numbers of any witnesses you come across so you can include them in your police report.
  • You have to get in touch with your insurance agent to inform them of any property damage.

What if the at-fault driver does not pull over and identify themself?

According to Vehicle Code Section 20002.3, a defendant may be accused of a misdemeanor for failing to stop and identify themselves if the accident resulted in property damage but no injuries.

In violation of California Vehicle Code Section 20002 VC, it is a misdemeanor hit and run to leave the scene of a car collision where there has been property damage.

In violation of California Vehicle Code Section 20001 VC, it is a felony hit and run when you leave the scene of a car accident in which someone else was hurt or killed.

What if no solid leads appear right away?

There are situations when the evidence acquired at a hit-and-run accident scene does not clearly point to the offender.

Law enforcement frequently searches for additional sources of evidence in these situations. Surveillance camera footage of the incident is a typical source. These images can provide information like:

  • a more detailed picture of the hit-and-run driver
  • the number on the driver's license plate, and/or
  • the driver's car, including its make, model, and color.

One or all of these data may aid in an arrest.

How the Police Can Help

The police may occasionally question more people in order to find additional proof. To find out if anyone might have useful information on the incident, they could, for instance, go to establishments or companies close to the accident area.

In an effort to find out if any drivers were hurt after an auto collision, police could potentially get in touch with nearby hospitals or urgent care facilities.

Local police may report the case to the media in extreme circumstances. As a result, information about the case is shared on many news platforms, including television and social media. Someone might come forward with solid information about who the guilty driver is as a result of the case's media airing.

Occasionally, the authorities are able to identify the hit-and-run driver using the facts they collected at the accident scene.

For instance, it's possible that a witness captured a clear image or photograph of the driver's license plate number. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) might then be contacted or a search of the number could be performed by the police in order to obtain personal or identifying information about the driver.

The police can then locate, question, and charge the suspect using this information.

Filing a Claim for Hit-and-Run Injuries

In California, it is illegal to leave the site of an accident when someone was hurt before the emergency services arrive. Once located, a driver who fled the scene of a collision may be charged with a crime.

Conviction of a hit-and-run driver doesn't mean the case is over. The injured party may bring a claim for compensation for their losses if the motorist was proven guilty of reckless or negligent driving. In such circumstances, hiring an Orange County hit and run accident attorney can help relieve some of the burden of making a claim while you receive treatment. Your chances of getting the money you're due will be increased if you're being represented by a skilled lawyer.

Can legal counsel help?

Yes. Criminal defense attorneys and personal injury attorneys both offer crucial support in hit-and-run situations.

You can get assistance from a vehicle accident attorney in filing an insurance claim and negotiating on your behalf. The attorney can assist you in bringing a civil case against the hit-and-run driver if the claim is unsuccessful.

Contact us

The likelihood that you will receive the compensation you are entitled to can be significantly increased by working with an experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer.

For a free case evaluation, call Barrios & Machado at (714) 515-9696 if you or a loved one was injured in a hit-and-run accident in Orange County.

Have Questions? Get in Touch.

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