Articles Tagged with Hit and Run Accidents

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Imagine you are walking or riding your bike home from work. You are on the sidewalk or in designated bike lanes, obeying traffic signals and using crosswalks appropriately. You are doing everything you can to be safe. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a car comes through an intersection and hits you.

Now imagine that same car pulling away and driving off. The driver doesn’t stop to see if you’re okay, and you didn’t get a good look at the car’s license plate. You might ask yourself how you’ll ever find out what happened and who was responsible for your injuries. Sadly, this might not be a hypothetical situation for you, which means getting these answers is a very real concern.

To identify a hit-and-run driver, you will likely need to rely on others.

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Drivers who are involved in any collision, no matter how seemingly minor, should always pull over and ensure that everyone involved is okay. This is especially important in cases where a collision involves a pedestrian or bicyclist as, with no protective metal frames or seat belts, injuries are common and often serious. Sadly, there are drivers among us who not only fail to stop when involved in a collision with another motorist, pedestrian or bicyclist; but also choose to intentionally flee the accident scene.

February 28 was a particularly dangerous day to be out walking or biking in New York City as police report that at least four pedestrians and one bicyclist were the victims of hit-and-run accidents throughout the city. Three of the victims; all men ages 63, 48 and 41, were pronounced dead and two others, a 22-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Police report that throughout January and February of this year, 19 pedestrians have been killed and more than 900 injured in accidents involving motor vehicles. The accidents that occurred on Feb. 28 were particularly troubling as, based upon their actions, the drivers involved demonstrated a gross and deliberate disregard for human life as they sped off and left their victims to suffer and die.

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Like any large urban city, New York City has its fair share of crime. When discussing any type of statistics related to criminal investigations, most residents would likely agree that one percent is an abysmal figure. Yet one percent actually represents more than the percentage of hit-and-run traffic accidents that were investigated by the New York Police Department during 2015. To be exact, NYPD officers investigated 0.16 percent or 48 of the 38,000 hit-and-run accidents that were reported by victims and bystanders this year.

Of these 38,000 reported accidents, roughly 4,000 resulted in victims suffering injuries, 31 of which were fatal injuries. While Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged taxpayers’ dollars to combating traffic accidents of all types, based upon the number of hit-and-run accidents that were never even investigated, it appears as though these accidents haven’t been a priority for city or law enforcement officials.

This may soon change as Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer recently proposed laws to increase the amount of fines imposed on hit-and-run drivers to $1,000 for property damage and between $5,000 and $10,000 if victims suffer injury or death. Spanning from Oct. 31 through Nov. 9, a total of 12 pedestrians were hit and killed by motorists, including two bus drivers who both fled the accident scenes.

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Not sure of what’s required of drivers after an accident that causes property damage or injury? Basically, if you are physically able to exchange information with the other driver, then you are required by law to do so.

In New York, the law states that, if you know or have cause to know that the collision resulted in personal injury or property damage, then specific kinds of information should be exchanged with the other party or provided to police before you leave the place where the injury or damage occurred. The law requires you to provide the following:

  • Name
  • Driver’s license number
  • Insurance information, including your card, carrier, policy number and effective dates
  • Street and number of your residence

Police on the scene of a crash are also required to help the parties involved in the collision exchange information when doing so is practical and physically possible.

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The drivers who cause motor vehicle accidents and then choose to drive away can be held accountable for their actions in criminal and/or civil court. These two processes are very different, but they are not intended to compete.

Listed below are five distinctions of note:

  1. A criminal charge punishes, while a civil claim compensates. Incarceration, restitution or community service, amongst other things, are intended to punish the driver in a criminal case. A civil suit focuses on the victim’s needs, including tangible and intangible losses.
  2. The injured person is a party to a civil suit. The government files criminal charges against the hit-and-run driver. The injured person does not have control or final say in a plea agreement. The injured party has access to all civil proceedings and final say in any settlement negotiations.
  3. The injured party is considered the victim of a civil offense. Certain actions are made illegal based on public policy reasons, and thus a crime is technically an offense against the state, even though an individual victim was involved. The injured party is the victim for all intents and purposes in a civil suit.
  4. The at-fault driver has less protections than in criminal court. Defendants in criminal cases have certain legal protections and rights that are paramount. For example, the state will provide an attorney if the defendant cannot afford one. A civil defendant must hire their own.
  5. A civil claim requires a lesser standard of proof than a criminal charge. The government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest standard of proof. The evidentiary standard of proof is lower in a civil claim for damages.

People who are injured in a hit-and-run accident should get the police involved, but they should also consult with a personal injury attorney immediately. It is important to begin building your civil case as soon as possible, even if criminal charges have been filed.

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Being injured in a hit-and-run accident can be one of the scariest and most frustrating, uncertain and painful times in a person’s life. In many cases a prompt and thorough investigation can lead to the arrest of the offending driver, but the person who was injured in the crash may still be left wondering how to receive and pay for medical treatment.

While New York law requires drivers to carry insurance, not everyone does, or they don’t carry enough to cover the full cost of injuries resulting from a crash. However, if you have added personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) to your insurance policy, then you may pursue compensation through your own insurance. This can be especially helpful after a hit-and-run collision.

The attorneys of Newman, Anzalone & Newman help hit-and-run accident victims get the compensation they need. We work with clients to explore the full range of relief options. We also conduct thorough investigations to identify the hit-and-run driver. These investigations typically involve interviewing witnesses and obtaining any available evidence at the scene, including security camera footage.

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New York State law requires drivers who are involved in motor vehicle accidents to stop and exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved in the crash. If no one is injured and only property is damaged, then the drivers should exchange information about their licenses, insurance and vehicle registration.

There are more required steps, however, if the property damage to any one party is more than $1,000. In that case, the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law requires that each driver involved in the accident file an official report with the DMV no later than 10 days after the crash. That official form is called the Report of Motor Vehicle Accident, or MV-104.

When a crash results in injury or death, then the law requires that the police be notified immediately. The drivers involved in the crash and the police must report the accident to the DMV.

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Car accident victims and their families are often shocked when prosecutors decline to bring criminal charges against drivers whose traffic offenses caused personal injury or death. In the face of serious injury or the loss of a loved one, it seems only fair that the reckless driver is held accountable in criminal court.

However, reckless drivers in New York City are rarely prosecuted after injurious or fatal crashes, especially if the accident doesn’t involve impaired driving, hit and run, evading police or another crime such as intentional hitting. In other words, there is not a strong likelihood that a driver who neglects to yield to a pedestrian or cyclist will be criminally prosecuted in NYC after an injurious collision. Not yet, anyway.

Families of accident victims and crash survivors recently gathered in front of City Hall to demand that city prosecutors begin doing more to hold reckless drivers accountable. The family members and safety advocates who spoke at the event announced their intention to make pedestrian and cyclist safety an important issue in the upcoming elections of district attorneys in Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.

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Not every state requires drivers to have uninsured motorist insurance policies, but New York does. That doesn’t mean, however, that all drivers in New York have this kind of coverage, nor can you assume that every driver has basic liability coverage; hence the need for uninsured motorist insurance.

If you are injured in a crash with an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver, then you are likely wondering about your options for receiving compensation. This should be a time when you focus on getting better physically and mentally, but unfortunately you’re faced with some legal issues. A personal injury attorney with experience in handling hit-and-run accident cases can explain your options and help you build a claim.

Every legal avenue for securing compensation for medical bills and other costs should be pursued in a hit-and-run case. Compensation may be sought by investigating the accident and identifying the hit-and-run driver. Coverage of your medical expenses and other needs may also be provided by your insurance policy, whether it offers personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured motorist protection or both.

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The problem of pedestrian accidents in New York City is well known. Widespread education efforts and a police crackdown were the focus of media attention earlier this year. Still, pedestrians continue to suffer serious injuries because of driver negligence, and injured parties or their families find themselves in need of legal assistance to reach an appropriate settlement.

Matters are significantly more complicated when a pedestrian has been injured in a hit-and-run accident. This situation tends to leave victims feeling helpless and unsure of their legal options. Even after you have contacted police and filed a report, it may still be necessary to speak with a personal injury attorney about investigating the crash, tracking down the hit-and-run driver, and suing that individual for negligence.

Witness interviews, video from security cameras and evidence from the site of the accident may all be used in efforts to locate and identify the driver who hurt you. However, most people who have suffered a hit-and-run injury are not in a position to gather these kinds of evidence. Again, a legal professional with experience in handling hit-and-run cases can take the necessary steps to help you build a strong claim.

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