There were approximately 38,000 hit and run accidents in New York City from January to November 2015. New York City police are so frustrated with the number of accidents that are occurring. The frustration has led to them unanimously backing a proposed law that would significantly raise a number of fines that are handed out to drivers who are caught after the fact.
The problem is that a very small percentage of hit and run drivers are actually ever caught, and the victims are left to live with the consequences of the accident for the rest of their lives.
The Latest Brooklyn Hit And Run Accident
In December 2016, city bus driver Paul Roper was getting ready to make a turn at an intersection in Brooklyn when he failed to notice 75-year-old Carol Bell crossing the street with her walker. Roper ran Bell over, stopped for a moment, and then kept on driving. It did not take long for the police to catch up with Roper and arrest him. Roper lost his job as a city bus driver and was sentenced to five years probation and received a $2,000 fine.
The story of Carol Bell is not typical when it comes to hit and run accidents in Brooklyn and throughout New York City. More often than not, the negligent driver is never caught, which means that the victim is never given the chance to receive adequate compensation for their injuries. In Roper’s case, his victim was not able to fight for her rights in court. But this highly publicized accident has helped to put a brighter spotlight on a growing problem throughout New York City.
What Is A Hit And Run Accident?
Whenever a motor vehicle driven in New York State strikes any object or person, the driver of the vehicle is required to stop and offer their insurance information to the victim. For the most part, a collision is considered a hit and run accident if a driver leaves the scene after:
- Damage is caused to an inanimate object
- Damage is caused to a moving vehicle
- A person is injured
- A person is killed
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In some instances, drivers who are caught will claim that they did not know they had struck a person or object. In 2012, Dr. James Corasanti of Amherst, New York was acquitted of hit and run charges when he claimed that he had no idea he had struck young Alix Rice while she was riding her bicycle. Rice was killed in the accident and Corasanti received no punishment of any kind.
Being the victim of a hit and run accident can be frustrating, but you can take steps to try and get the justice and adequate compensation you deserve. You can take steps immediately after your accident to try and bring the negligent driver to justice, and have the defense you need to file your personal injury lawsuit.
The Immediate Moments After The Accident Occurs
The natural first reaction the moment after you have been involved in a hit and run accident is to be angry and scared. If you want to do everything you can to bring the offending driver to justice, then you need to take a deep breath and remain calm.
If you are in a vehicle when the accident happens, make sure that you and your passengers do not need emergency medical attention. If you do need emergency help, dial 911 immediately and have everyone in the vehicle remain in place. You could have injuries that could be made worse if you move, so do not move until help arrives.
If you are able to get you and your vehicle off the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic, then do so carefully. You do not want to make the situation worse by having an unsuspecting motorist hit your disabled car because they did not see you.
Capturing The Correct Information
In the moments after a hit and run accident, you still have the chance to collect the information you need to help the police find the suspect. The information you need to gather includes:
- The suspect’s car license number, make, and model
- The color of the car that hit you
- Any dents, scratches, or other marks that will help police identify the vehicle
- Names, contact information, and statements from any witnesses
- Pictures of the accident site
- Pictures of your car after the accident
If you are quick enough and not injured, you may be able to get out of your vehicle and get the information about the car in question as it is driving away. If you can snap a quick picture of the car, then that would help. Even if you are unable to get a complete license plate number or description, do your best to get as much information as you can to aid police in their search. Any information you can gather about the vehicle in the wrong is going to give police the clues they need to bring the suspect to justice.
Once you have collected as much information as you possibly can, then you should call the police. Be sure to get off of the road in case the hit and run driver decides to come back. Put yourself in a position where police and emergency personnel can easily see you when they arrive. Give the police all of the information that you have and cooperate fully with putting together the accident report.
Seeking Legal Help
You will want to hire an attorney who is experienced in hit and run cases to take your personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney will work with the police to try and find the negligent driver, and your attorney will represent you when it comes time to prosecute. The earlier you get your attorney involved in your case, the more fresh information they will be able to collect on your behalf.
It is also a good idea to discuss how to talk to your own insurance company with your attorney before you call in your accident claim. Since the other party of the accident is not immediately identified, it could cause problems for your insurance company. Your attorney is there to make sure that your rights are protected at all times, so you should ensure that you are doing everything the right way by discussing your actions with your attorney first.
Do Not Try To Be Your Own Investigator
Do not contact witnesses or perform any investigative work on your own. If you see a vehicle that you believe is the one that hit you, then contact the police and let them know. The police and your attorney will contact the witnesses on your behalf and get the information they both need to help move your case along. All you will do is get in the way if you try to investigate your case on your own, so be smart and let the experts do their jobs.
A hit and run accident can happen suddenly, and it could permanently change your life. Remember to gather as much information as you can immediately after the accident, and hire an experienced attorney you can trust to defend your rights and make sure that everything possible will get done to bring the hit and run driver to justice.