Next Steps After a Hit and Run Accident in Las Vegas
Car accidents are stressful on their own, but this stress is only amplified when the other driver involved abandons the scene without stopping to exchange information, offer aid, or secure a police report. Hit and run accidents make securing recovery for any injuries incredibly difficult because the responsible party is unidentified.
Read on to better understand the legal implications of a hit and run accident and recommended next steps.
What are a Driver’s Responsibilities After an Accident?
Nevada law places clear obligations on any driver involved in a hit and run accident. The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in death, bodily injury, or property damage must immediately stop their vehicle at the scene and remain at the scene until they have provided:
- Required contact information to the driver or occupant of any other vehicle or property involved in the crash;
- Requested information to any police officer at the scene; and
- Reasonable assistance to any person injured in the crash including making arrangements for necessary medical care.
If a police officer is not present at the scene of the accident, drivers have a responsibility to report the crash to the nearest police office or the Nevada Highway Patrol within ten days of the date of the accident.
Failure to comply with these requirements has criminal penalties including the possibility of imprisonment for a period of two to 20 years and fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. The severity of penalties depends on whether death or bodily injury result from the accident and the extent of any property damage. The state prosecutor will make decisions regarding criminal prosecution of the driver if they are located. In addition to criminal penalties, the offender has civil responsibility for any injuries caused by their actions.
Analysis of hit and run incidents compared to population ranks Nevada as the second deadliest state for hit and run accidents in the United States. Nevada has 1.6 hit and run fatalities per 100,000 residents with the majority of these fatalities occurring off of national highways.
Seeking Recovery After a Hit and Run Accident
Recovering for your injuries can be complicated and stressful after any car accident. These complications are amplified after a hit and run accident because the other party is unidentified. There are several steps you can take to increase the likelihood of recovery after a hit and run accident:
- Secure medical assistance. Your safety should be your number one concern after any accident but is especially important after a hit and run where the offender fails to provide necessary aid. Call for medical support as soon as you are able. Making sure you receive prompt medical care will keep an insurance provider or defendant from arguing that a delay to receive treatment contributed to your injuries.
- Call the police. One of the most important pieces of evidence after a car accident is a police report which will document the scene and witness information. Police involvement is even more critical after a hit and run accident. Not only will the police document the accident, but they will preserve any evidence that could assist in locating the offender. The police should take the hit and run seriously because the offender is guilty of a criminal offense.
- Gather information. If you are physically and mentally able, gather as much information from the accident scene as possible and document any information you recall about the other driver or vehicle. If anyone witnessed the accident, their input will be valuable. If possible, encourage the witnesses to stay at the scene until the police arrive. If that isn’t possible, be sure to collect their contact information. Important information includes:
- License plate number
- The vehicle’s make, model, or color
- The direction the vehicle fled
- Act quickly. Personal injury victims only have two years to bring a civil lawsuit against a defendant in Nevada. While two years may sound like a long time, it will pass quickly, especially if a significant amount of time is spent identifying the culprit. If you are unable to identify the culprit and plan to seek recovery from your insurance carrier, you will need to act in this same time frame.
- Save all documents. Any documentation of the accident scene or your injuries will be important to your recovery. Details of the scene will assist in locating the offender as well as establishing who was at fault for the accident. Medical records will be important to establish the severity of your injuries and how they have affected your life.
- Understand your insurance policy. Most automobile insurance policies include uninsured motor vehicle coverage which helps pay medical expenses, lost wages, or property damage if the at-fault driver remains unknown. Review your policy to understand your coverage and any required deductibles.
- Differentiate between criminal and civil penalties. Hit and run accidents are both a criminal and civil offense. The statute specifies the criminal penalties a hit and run culprit will face if pursued by the state. Recovery for your injuries will be handled by the civil courts. A personal injury lawyer can help you build your case against the defendant.
The time after a hit and run accident is complicated and stressful as you navigate conversations with law enforcement and your insurance carrier. An experienced car accident lawyer will help you through this difficult time by analyzing the evidence, clearly explaining your options, talking to law enforcement, negotiating with your insurance provider, and filing any necessary insurance claim and court documents.
The team at Gina Corena & Associates understand the stress you are facing as the victim of a hit and run accident. We are dedicated to fighting for the rights of people who suffer because of the unfair and negligent actions of a hit and run driver. We work tirelessly to ensure that the responsible party is held responsible and that our clients are fairly compensated for their injuries.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a hit and run accident, contact Gina M. Corena today to schedule a consultation.