Hit-and-run deaths up over 60 percent: Is there a legal remedy?

Pedestrians and bicycle riders are getting killed in car accidents at an alarming rate.

A recently released study by AAA reports fatalities due to injuries sustained from hit-and-run accidents have grown steadily since 2009. The researchers with the study defined hit-and-run accidents as those where a driver leaves the scene of an accident before providing required information. In some cases, they driver may never stop. In others, the driver may stop and provide some information but leave while knowing he or she has not provided an adequate amount of information.

An analysis of the data: How did researchers get to this conclusion?

The data used by AAA shows hit-and-run fatalities were up 62 percent since 2009. This translates to an increase of 7.2 percent every year from 2009 to 2016. Researchers came to this conclusion through analysis of the most recent available data. This data, from 2016, found 2,049 fatalities connected to hit-and-run accidents. The study used state specific data. According to researchers, Illinois fell right in the middle of this disturbing trend, ranking 21st in the nation.

The majority of these victims are pedestrians and bicycle riders. Researchers also point out these types of accidents are more likely to occur at night, on low speed roads and within areas pedestrians are known to use frequently.

A review of legal options: Are there remedies for victims?

Victims of hit-and-run accidents generally rely on their own insurance to cover the costs that result from the accident. States generally require a driver to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Illinois requires a minimum of $20,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury per person and $40,000 per accident.

Ideally, the victim can hold a responsible driver liable for the costs that result from the accident through a civil suit. In some cases, the driver can be located. The victim can help with these proactive steps:

  • Gather evidence. Gather as much evidence about the accident as possible. If you saw the vehicle clearly take note of the make and model. If possible, take a couple of photos of the scene of the accident. If severely injured and unable to take the photos, ask someone to get these photos on your behalf.
  • Get contact information for witnesses. Get the names and phone numbers of anyone else that witnessed the accident.
  • Keep in contact with authorities. Tell the police what you know. Ask for a copy of any documentation they have about the accident.

Although difficult, it is not impossible to find the responsible driver. If the victim acts promptly, evidence may be available from nearby surveillance cameras that may have recorded the accident. There is also the possibility that the accident damaged the vehicle and vehicle parts were left behind at the scene of the crime. These can be used to help locate the vehicle and the driver. Legal counsel can provide some guidance and help you receive compensation you are entitled. Contact an attorney promptly to help preserve your legal rights.