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Any type of motor vehicle crash can be a stressful experience, but hit-and-run collisions can be traumatic on multiple fronts for injury victims.
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents are on the rise, according to a recent analysis by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. A hit-and-run happens every 43 seconds in the United States, according to the report.
Hit-and-Runs in Ohio
Hit-and-run accidents—also known as hit/skip crashes—contribute to a staggering number of injuries and fatalities in the Cincinnati area and across Ohio each year.
There were more than 45,000 hit-and-run accidents in Ohio in 2017, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The victims were most often pedestrians and bicyclists.
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in Ohio. Penalties include but are not limited to steep fines and a driver’s license suspension. While a hit-and-run is generally a misdemeanor in Ohio, in 2018 the state Legislature passed a new bill stipulating that drivers who intentionally flee the scene of a hit/skip accident in which serious injuries or fatalities result will face felony charges.
What to Do if You’re the Victim of a Hit-and-Run
Hit-and-run victims often feel alone to cope with the devastating effects of these crashes. If the at-fault driver can’t be found, victims are forced to turn to their own insurance companies for help with medical expenses and other damages, and insurance company settlement offers are rarely adequate for injury victims’ long-term needs.
However, if you were hurt in a hit-and-run collision there are still steps you can take to protect your ability to pursue compensation:
- Call local law enforcement or 911: Report the collision as soon as possible. Convey as much information as you can about the at-fault driver and his or her vehicle to the responding officers.
- Gather information: If possible, collect the names and contact information for any witnesses. Make notes about the details of the collision and the vehicle that fled, including the circumstances in which the crash occurred and anything you remember about the car including its make, model, color, license number, etc. Take photos and/or video of the accident scene and your injuries.
- Report the collision to your insurance company: Contact your insurance provider and report the hit-and-run. Remember to stick to the facts of the incident; don’t apologize or admit fault.
- Contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney: It’s advisable to arrange a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. A skilled attorney can help you understand your options for pursuing financial compensation, further investigate your case in hopes of finding the at-fault driver, and negotiate with insurance companies to achieve a fair settlement.
How an Attorney Can Help with a Hit-and-Run Claim
Personal injury lawyers are dedicated to helping individuals who have suffered injuries due to negligence, such as hit-and-run accidents. There are a variety of ways in which having an attorney on your side after a hit/skip accident can be beneficial:
- Case investigation: Personal injury lawyers are extremely familiar with filing and investigating hit-and-run claims and can help guide individuals through the often confusing process. They know how to gather evidence to support your claim, and they have the experience to negotiate for fair settlements based on your medical expenses and other damages.
- Negotiate with insurance companies: Communicating with insurance companies during the claims process can be a hassle, but experienced attorneys know how to handle these communications to speed up the negotiations and avoid taking the claim to court. Hiring a personal injury lawyer could not only save you time and stress, but it could also prevent you from accepting unfair insurance settlements.
- Establish liability: In the event that the hit-and-run driver is located, a personal injury lawyer could improve your chances of establishing the other party’s liability in the accident. Proving liability requires extensive legal knowledge and courtroom experience, especially in circumstances in which the offending driver and vehicle fled and witness accounts are limited.
- Handle the case in court: Like other types of personal injury cases, hit-and-run claims are often settled out of court. But there are situations in which a fair settlement cannot be reached.
If you were injured in a hit-and-run accident in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana, it’s time to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Cincinnati attorneys at Young, Reverman & Mazzei have extensive experience in car accident claims, including those related to hit-and-runs, and we have the resources and courtroom expertise to take your case to trial when settlement offers are too low.
Call us today at 800-721-1678 or contact us online. We offer free consultations to help you understand your legal options, and we work on a contingent-fee basis, which means we don’t charge unless we successfully resolve your case.
Young, Reverman & Mazzei welcomes clients from the greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, areas as well as Campbell County, Kenton County, and Boone County in Kentucky, and Dearborn County in Indiana. Please see our locations page for a complete list of our offices and directions.