Traffic Incidents & Vehicular Crimes
California Vehicle Code § 20001 requires the drivers of a vehicle involved in traffic collisions resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop at the scene of the collision to render aid to injured persons and to identify themselves to the injured party and to the local police. California Vehicle Code § 20002 requires drivers involved in traffic collisions to stop and identify themselves even if the traffic collision caused only property damage.
California Vehicle Code 16028 (a) states that every person who drives a motor vehicle upon a highway shall provide evidence of financial responsibility for the vehicle that is in effect at the time the demand is made. Uninsured motorist coverage is automobile coverage that provides protection in the event of a traffic collision in which the at-fault party does not have insurance or in the event that the at-fault party is never identified. California requires auto insurance companies to provide you with uninsured motorist coverage unless you decline it in writing when you purchase your auto insurance. One of the best ways to protect yourself from the devastation of a hit-and-run offender or uninsured motorist can cause you and your family is through “Uninsured Motorist” or “PIP” coverage on your auto insurance policy.
You and passengers in your vehicle who suffer bodily harm may be covered for damages under this coverage of your policy. You may also be covered if you are injured while a pedestrian, cyclist, or a passenger in another person’s vehicle if the at-fault motorist is uninsured or is never identified.
The failure to stop and report an accident is a separate serious violation of the law in addition to any violation involved in the cause of the collision. Not only do convicted hit-and-run drivers face criminal charges punishable by enhanced fines and jail time when a traffic collision involves injuries or death, but they can also be held liable for civil damages. Monetary compensation may be awarded for things such as medical bills, loss of income, property damage, pain, and suffering. Your own auto insurance may also be a source of compensation for your hit-and-run collision damages.
Employers Can Be Liable for Hit-and-Run Damages
If a driver has been identified and charged with a hit-and-run offense while on the job, not only can the offender be held liable for damages, but also his employer. An employer is generally liable for the damage caused by an employee’s wrongful conduct if the employee was acting within the “scope and course” of his or her job when the incident occurred.
Victim Compensation Programs Can Help
You may be eligible to obtain compensation for some of your damages through state victim assistance and compensation programs as a victim of a criminal offense.
One such program is Crime Victim Compensation, which can help victims of hit-and-run accidents pay for some of the costs of their recovery, including medical care, lost wages, funeral bills, and other expenses. Visit the California Victims of Crime Compensation website at: https://victims.ca.gov/