In California, it is illegal to leave the scene of a car accident or pedestrian accident. Despite this law, drivers often flee the scene of accidents they have caused. The Sacramento area has seen a series of fatal hit-and-run accidents in the last few months, including:
- In the first week of December, a pedestrian was killed in Vacaville when he was struck by a pickup truck that fled the scene of the accident.
- In November, a 61-year-old female bicyclist died from injuries sustained in a hit-and-run crash in Sacramento.
- In September, a 60-year-old man died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver when walking across Fultan Avenue at Hurley Way.
- Also in September, a motorcyclist died after a fatal hit-and-run crash in South Sacramento. The driver was apprehended in this case and charged with felony hit and run and driving under the influence.
In serious injury accidents, the driver generally has a duty to take the reasonable steps to help the injured. Reasonable steps mean calling 911 and the proper authorities. Hit-and-run accidents are especially disturbing when the driver flees and fails to call 911 or summon the help the injured persons need. No one will ever know if more immediate attention would have saved the hit-and-run victim’s life.
A driver who flees a car accident will receive a ticket for breaking the law. When the hit and run accident causes serious injury or death the fleeing driver will likely be be charged criminally with felony hit and run. In addition to criminal charges, the driver can be held civilly responsible for the injuries and fatalities they caused.
Seeking liability for wrongful death
Losing a loved one in a fatal accident is extremely difficult. Not only does a family face the emotional loss of a family member they may also likely confront an unexpected loss in income. In a wrongful death case, family members of the victim can sue the driver for negligence and obtain compensation for their loss. Those damages can compensate for:
- Funeral and burial costs
- The costs of medical treatment
- The loss of companionship
- The loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
Hit-and-run accidents often involve alcohol. Drunk drivers often flee because they don’t want to get caught drinking and driving and the alcohol impairs their ability to understand the immediacy of their actions. Those injured by drunk drivers are entitled to punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages listed above. Punitive damages are extra compensation that serve as a punishment to the drunk driver and are intended to discourage similar behavior.
If you have been injured in a hit and run accident, or you have lost a loved one in a hit and run accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your right to recovery.