A hit-and-run accident is a car crash involving one or more vehicles, where the at-fault driver flees the accident scene. According to Illinois law any driver who hits someone with a car or other motor vehicle, must stop and stay at the accident scene. Failure to comply with this law is considered a felony, and it endangers the lives of the other driver or passengers whose injuries may worsen if there’s no one nearby to help them or call an ambulance.
Have you sustained a personal injury or lost a loved one because of a hit-and-run crash?
We can help you recover fair compensation for your damages. At CCAL, we offer accessible legal representation for hit-and-run victims across Illinois. We have spent decades helping hit-and-run accident victims locate at-fault drivers and recover fair compensation. Call our experienced hit and run accident lawyers at (312) 300-2515 or chat with us online for a free case evaluation.
We provide a free consultation and only get paid when we recover compensation for your claim.
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Why do Drivers Leave The Scene of a Car Accident?
In most cases, drivers flee an accident scene because of the “flight or fight” emotion, which we all experience. Most drivers fear the legal consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while texting, not having liability insurance when they cause an accident, or even having an expired driver’s license. They think if they flee the accident scene, they’ll never get caught.
Other reasons why drivers flee an accident scene, include:
- The driver was driving a car without permission, or it’s stolen.
- The vehicle is company-owned, and the driver doesn’t want their employer to know that they got into a car accident.
- The driver has an outstanding warrant for their arrest for unpaid tickets or other crimes.
- The driver is an illegal immigrant.
- The driver was transporting illegal drugs or goods.
- The driver is uninsured and has no financial means to pay the compensation owed to the injured person.
But just because they flee the accident scene, this doesn’t mean they can evade their financial obligations. Concerned witnesses remember things, such as the appearance of the negligent driver’s damaged car, license plate number, or they may take a quick photo of the accident scene. Nowadays, security cameras are everywhere, so maybe one recorded high-quality photos or video, which the police or an experienced car accident attorney can use to find the driver and hold them accountable; criminally and compensation-wise.
Illinois Law on Chicago Hit-and-Run Accidents
Even though fleeing an accident scene is illegal, it happens daily. Data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that 11% of all motor vehicle accidents involve hit-and-run accidents.
In Illinois, the law states no driver involved in an accident should ever leave an accident scene when a bodily injury has occurred, as they may also face jail time when located unless he/she needs immediate medical attention. Illinois law requires the driver to provide specific information to law enforcement officers and to other drivers and/or passengers involved in the accident.
If a driver flees the accident scene without proving these requirements, they might be found guilty of a felony. Also, they could face license suspension or even revocation of license If a hit-and-run causes death, that’s a Class 2 felony, which is punishable by jail time for three to 14 years. Even with these laws and severe penalties they carry, hit-and-run accidents are quite common.
What Should I Do If I’m the Victim of a Hit and Run?
If you’re involved in a car accident; fear is the first emotion you experience. You fear that you or someone else is injured. If you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident, this fear is quickly joined by frustration.
However, after a hit and run, remain calm and DO the following four things:
- Call emergency services. If you or someone else suffers injuries following a car accident, call an ambulance immediately. Also, contact the police and report that you were involved in a hit and run.
- Gather evidence. Collect as much information about the driver, vehicle, and the accident as possible, including the description of the car, license plate number, the direction the vehicle was heading to, and take photos of the accident scene and damages.
- Locate the witnesses. Did anyone else see the accident? Did other drivers or people at the bus station see the accident? How about people working nearby? Identify all the witnesses and collect their contact information. When the police arrive at the scene, remember to tell them about the witnesses.
- Call a Chicago car accident attorney for your accident, do this before you contact your car insurance carrier.
After a hit and run, DON’T do the following things:
- Don’t chase the fleeing driver. Chasing after the fleeing driver is extremely dangerous, and it may cause you to miss key witnesses if you leave the accident scene.
- Don’t leave the scene before calling the police. If you don’t require immediate medical attention, stay at the scene, and wait for the police to arrive. Going to the hospital or home before speaking to the police may cause them to doubt your story.
What Happens if the Police Don’t Find the Driver?
In Illinois, all insurance companies doing business in the state must offer every driver uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). So, in the event of a hit and run where the driver can’t be located, the injured motorist’s uninsured motorist cover is activated to cover the damages. However, if you are among those who choose not to pay UM/UIM motorist coverage and the police can’t locate the at-fault driver, then you’ve exhausted your options. Here, you’ll pay the medical expenses and take the economic hit on injuries, lost income, and property damage. There’s nothing you can do.
How Common Are Hit-and-Run Accidents?
Research by the AAA Motor Club shows that hit-and-run accidents occur every minute in the United States. Although not all hit and runs are tragic; fatal hit-and-run accidents have been on the rise in the U.S. In 2016, there were over 1,900 fatal hit-and-run accidents, and 69% of them occurred in Illinois. The majority of victims of hit and runs are cyclists and pedestrians. On average, there are over 682, 000 hit-and-run accidents every year.
Every week our auto accident lawyers in Chicago receive inquiries about legal representation in hit-and-run lawsuits. At CCAL, we handle these cases regularly.
Can I Make a Hit-and-Run Claim as a Bicyclist or Pedestrian?
Yes, you can make a hit-and-run claim with your motor vehicle insurance company:
- If you were the driver or passenger.
- If you were a pedestrian.
- If you were a bicyclist.
- If you were a passenger in a taxicab that doesn’t have UM coverage of its own.
- If you were a passenger on a bus or other common carriers, in some situations.
- If you don’t own a vehicle, but you live with an immediate family member that has auto insurance coverage.
How Can CCAL Help With My Hit & Run Damages Claim?
We have been representing injured persons in Illinois, for decades, so we have an impressive array of resources to help with your hit-and-run damages claim. We can help you with:
- Investigators. We work with expert investigators who will immediately explore the details surrounding your hit-and-run accident to locate the at-fault driver and establish the cause of the accident.
- Hit-and-run accidents experts. We work with forensic experts and accident reconstructionists who can reconstruct how the accident happened to the judge and jury.
- Expert medical witnesses. We work with highly skilled expert witnesses to establish damages in your case.
- Our expert attorneys. Our team of experienced car accident attorneys is the most important resource for your case. Our experienced Chicago car accident attorneys will take a smart approach to settle or try your case.
Contact a Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Today
It’s bad enough to be a victim of a negligent driver; don’t let yourself become a victim again. It’s essential to seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a hit-and-run crash. Because over time, you may lose important evidence. Witnesses may forget crucial information, or you may not be able to locate them. Additionally, insurance companies may try to offer you a lowball settlement.
A Chicago hit-and-run accident attorney at CCAL can help you get the compensation you deserve, whether this means pursuing the at-fault driver or your insurance company. Our experienced attorneys know your rights regarding the law and your insurer. For a free consultation, contact us today at (312) 300-2515, or chat with us online.