When the driver responsible for your car accident injuries flees the scene, you may wonder what to do. A hit-and-run accident can change your life forever, resulting in serious injuries and the possible death of a close loved one. Thankfully, you may be able to recover compensation in your case regardless of whether the at-fault driver is identified.
There are several reasons why a negligent driver may flee the scene of an accident. A Birmingham hit and run accident attorney can help you seek the money you need to cover your losses. From investigating your accident to holding the responsible party accountable for their actions, we will do our best to bring you justice.
Hit-and-Run Accidents and Your Injuries
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute in the United States. Motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists are all at risk of encountering a hit-and-run driver.
When the sudden impact of a car crash is over, the parties involved must remain onsite and, if possible, render aid. This isn’t just a personal choice – it is required by Ala. Code § 32-10-2. Those involved in a collision cannot leave the scene until they exchange information, the police arrive, and a report is filed, if required.
The law states the following requirements regarding vehicle accidents and the responsibilities of motorists:
- Remain on the scene until law enforcement grants permission to leave
- Provide their contact and vehicle information
- Render aid to others if they suffered injuries or need other assistance
Failure to remain on the scene can result in the following criminal charges:
- For property damage: Class A misdemeanor
- For an injury or fatality: Class C felony
You must stay on the scene until you can give a report to the police about what happened. If you’re taken to the hospital for treatment at the scene, the police will come by later to question you. You will not be charged with a hit-and-run in this case.
For a free legal consultation with a Hit and Run Accident lawyer serving Birmingham, call (205) 380-4158
Is a Hit-and-Run a Felony in Alabama?
Under Ala. Code § 32-10-1, a driver’s duty in an accident is to stay at the scene to exchange information, render aid, and contact law enforcement to report the crash. Leaving the scene of the accident could result in criminal charges.
However, the only time a hit-and-run is a felony in Alabama is if the accident resulted in injuries or death. Leaving the scene of an injurious or fatal accident is a Class C felony, punishable by one year and one day to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 under Ala. Code § 13A-5-6 and Ala. Code § 13A-5-11.
Leaving the scene of an accident that has only resulted in property damage is considered a Class A misdemeanor. This crime is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $6,000 under Ala. Code § 13A-5-7 and Ala. Code § 13A-5-12.
Birmingham Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Near Me (205) 380-4158
Can I Still Sue Despite the Criminal Case?
In addition to having their license revoked, hit-and-run drivers – when apprehended – face stiff fines and jail time. Their charges in a criminal case have no bearing on any civil litigation. You can pursue a lawsuit or insurance claim even if there are no criminal charges or the charges are dropped. However, the evidence in a criminal case can support your claim.
To recover compensation after a Birmingham traffic accident, you need to prove the other driver caused the accident because of their negligent behavior behind the wheel. This will allow you to file a claim based on the driver’s auto liability policy or file a lawsuit against them. If police cannot identify the driver, you can file a claim with your uninsured motorist policy.
It is your right under Alabama law to pursue civil action when another driver causes a crash. However, you must do so quickly, as every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. In Alabama, the general deadline is two years, per Ala. Code § 6-2-38, though certain circumstances can make this deadline shorter. As long as you contact us soon enough after your accident, our Birmingham hit-and-run accident attorneys will ensure that your case is filed on time.
Can You Sue Someone for a Hit-and-Run in Birmingham?
You can sue someone for a hit-and-run accident in Birmingham. But to do so, you’ll need to know who hit you. When a driver flees the scene of an accident they caused, knowing who to sue can become problematic. Identifying the hit-and-run driver can be challenging. It may require:
- Interviewing witnesses
- Gathering physical evidence from the scene
- Analyzing any available surveillance or dashcam video footage
You’ll need to notify the police and your insurance company of the accident, as they can help investigate the accident and identify the other driver. If you hire a Birmingham hit-and-run accident attorney, they can also assist with the investigation.
Without identifying the other driver, you’re left to pursue compensation from your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist policy coverage or collision coverage. Finding the other driver may take some time, but it’s vital to:
- Recovering the full compensation you deserve
- Getting justice in your case
- Letting the criminal justice system work
What if the At-Fault Driver Can’t Be Identified?
If the police officers, insurance company, and our attorneys cannot learn the driver’s identity, you may still have options for compensation. In many cases, you can recover the money damages you need to pay for your medical care, car repairs, pain and suffering, and more from your uninsured motorist policy.
In other cases, you may be required to rely on your collision coverage and medical payment (MedPay) coverage or health insurance to pay what falls under those policies and determine a plan to pay the rest. Our lawyers can help you better understand your options for recovering compensation for your Birmingham hit-and-run during your free case review.
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Common Reasons Drivers Flee the Scene of an Accident
While there is no way to determine why an individual driver flees the scene of an accident unless the police can identify and interview them, several key reasons are often to blame, including:
- The driver has an outstanding warrant
- The driver is drunk or under the influence of drugs
- The driver does not have a valid driver’s license
- The driver does not have the required insurance coverage
- The car is stolen
- The driver is fearful of the consequences of their actions
- The driver lacks empathy for others at the scene
There are many other factors that may explain why a driver chooses to flee the scene of an accident. Identifying and locating the driver responsible for your injuries is often highly dependent on evidence from the accident scene. Any help and information you can provide is essential to this process.
Gather As Much Evidence As You Can to Find the Driver
Building a case against the at-fault driver and getting compensation does not necessarily require identifying the driver. However, it may greatly help you get a better outcome in your case. Some evidence that is often essential in this quest includes:
Witness Statements and Evidence
Good citizens who witness the accident and have the presence of mind to take pictures or capture video of the offender and/or their vehicle can help your case. Gathering the contact information for witnesses is vital for possibly identifying the driver.
Any Photos, Videos, or Information You Have
One of the first things you should do after a crash, when possible, is to document all involved vehicles and drivers. Get their license plate numbers, photograph their vehicle and the damage, and exchange insurance and contact information. If they leave the scene, you may have enough information to prove their identity.
Local Surveillance Video
Surveillance video from businesses is another form of possible evidence. Traffic cameras and other nearby cameras may have captured video of the car immediately before or after the collision. If you have a dashcam in your car, that could be the best evidence if it was lucky enough to capture the other vehicle. Dashcam footage may also be able to get a license plate.
If law enforcement has not identified or located the driver responsible for your accident injuries, you can still pursue action to recover compensation in most cases. By contacting a Birmingham hit-and-run accident attorney, you can focus on healing while they focus on building a case on your behalf and seeking financial recovery for the damages you incurred.
Hold the Hit-and-Run Driver Responsible for Your Injuries
It is unfortunate that a negligent driver failed to share the road safely and as required by traffic laws – the fact that they attempted to leave the scene may only compound your anger and frustration.
In cases where the driver is identified, their insurance company may offer you a settlement. Should you accept the offer, you forfeit your right to pursue legal action later should your medical condition worsen or circumstances change. We encourage you to speak with our team before talking with the insurance company or signing anything.
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a cowardly act that demands justice. If you were seriously injured due to the careless actions of a hit-and-run driver, contact the Morris Bart law firm today for a free case evaluation.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You
Once the responsible driver is identified and located, a personal injury lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company for the type of settlement you may be eligible to receive. If necessary, we are ready to go to trial for the best outcome possible.
If the driver has no insurance or law enforcement cannot locate them, your insurance policy may cover your costs – if you have the correct type of insurance coverage. Alabama requires drivers to opt-out of uninsured motorist coverage in writing; otherwise, it comes with your liability policy. This is the policy that pays for a hit-and-run crash.
Hit-and-run cases are quite complex when the driver who caused your injuries is never found. Your insurance company may deny or delay coverage due to the specific terms of your policy. If your insurance company is refusing to honor your coverage during this difficult time, our hit-and-run accident lawyers in Birmingham may be able to help.
Take Action: Contact Morris Bart & Associates, LLC Today
You should not have to pay out of pocket for expenses due to a driver who chose to flee the scene of an accident. If the responsible driver is never located, your insurance company must honor the terms of your auto policy.
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a close loved one due to a negligent hit-and-run driver, you may have the right to pursue civil action. Call the Morris Bart law firm now for a free case evaluation. We work on a contingency-fee basis.
Your case demands urgent attention and action. If you were seriously injured by a driver who chose to flee the scene, a Birmingham hit and run accident attorney may be able to help. Remember, you owe us nothing if we do not win your case. Seek the justice you deserve by reaching out to our legal team today.
Questions?Call (205) 380-4158
to find a Morris Bart office near you.