Do Hit-and-Runs Get Solved?

Do Hit-and-Runs Get Solved?

A hit-and-run accident is any crash involving a driver who leaves the scene before they can be identified. Some hit-and-runs are done without the victim even being there, like when a driver scrapes into the side of a parked car and leaves without leaving behind a note. In other situations, a driver gets into a car accident, checks to see if everyone is okay, and then leaves before they share their identifying information. In more situations still, the hit-and-run driver causes a crash and never stops at all, putting everyone else in a difficult and unfair situation.

When a driver cannot be identified after causing or being in a crash, it is most often the police’s responsibility to try to find the driver. This is because leaving the scene of any crash before allowing others to identify you is a crime in all states.

But how successful are the police in tracking down hit-and-run drivers? Unfortunately, the situation is not in the favor of accident victims. While getting definitive data is difficult due to reporting systems that often do not designate a hit-and-run from other types of accidents, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) did report that it was unable to catch 92% of hit-and-run drivers in 2018. This percentage can be assumed to be an average across the board, so 1-in-10 hit-and-run drivers will be caught eventually.

How Police Investigate Hit-and-Run Cases

During a hit-and-run investigation, the responding officer will survey the scene. They will also gather witness and victim statements, and collect any evidence from the accident. 

Evidence collected in hit-and-run investigations include:

  • Pictures of the scene
  • Brake marks
  • Video recordings
  • Broken glass
  • Paint left on the damaged vehicle

After collecting evidence, the officer then submits their report to the DMV and the station. 

How Can You Help a Hit-and-Run Investigation?

The best chances to solve a hit-and-run accident begin with collecting as much evidence as you can immediately after your accident. Tangible evidence like photographs or video footage is the best if you can get it.

If you do not have a dashcam installed in your car, then it is advised you get one as soon as possible. Dashcams can be programmed to constantly record while you drive, greatly increasing the chances of capturing video evidence of any drivers who crash into you. If you do not have a dashcam, then reach for your smartphone and start taking pictures of the other car as soon as you are able after a collision. Oftentimes, hit-and-run drivers will linger for a minute while they figure out if they are okay. During this time, snapping a single picture of their license plate could provide what the police need to know to catch them later.

Once a driver is caught by the police, they will have to answer for their crimes through the criminal justice system. But you will also get the chance to get insurance information from them and file a claim as you would after any crash.

Don’t Forget Your Own Insurance

Being hurt by a hit-and-run driver obviously is not ideal, but it is not a dealbreaker when it comes to getting compensation for your injuries and damages. If you have uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage as part of your insurance policy, then your own insurer should provide for your damages, up to your policy cap. Hit-and-run drivers are effectively the same as an uninsured motorist, which is why this policy can apply to these types of accidents. It is advised you add UM/UIM coverage to your policy as soon as possible, just as with buying and installing a dashcam.

Your insurance company will probably not be happy to pay for the damages that an unidentified driver did. You should expect some pushback and consider working with a car accident lawyer to file your claim.

Drivers who have been hurt in a hit-and-run accident in Woodbridge can work with Palmisano & Goodman, P.A. to get their claim started. Dial (732) 709-4400 for more information about our legal services.