Charlotte Hit-and-Run Accidents Pose an Increasing Problem
State laws across the U.S. require all drivers involved in traffic accidents to remain on the scene, barring injuries that require immediate emergency care. Yet, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 1,500 people are killed by hit-and-run drivers every year.
The good news is that North Carolina insurers are required by law to provide uninsured motorist (UM) insurance to help injured victims pay for injuries and other damages in the event of an accident caused by a hit-and-run driver. The bad news is that North Carolina hit-and-run accidents continue to increase in number.
Possible Reasons for Hit-and-Run Accidents
According to a June 2014 report by WBTV, Charlotte saw one hit-and-run accident with an injury or fatality every day in 2013. While the North Carolina’s hit-and-runs increased by 5.7 percent in the first half of 2014, the number of these accidents jumped by an alarming 13 percent in Charlotte.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department generally believes that there are two primary reasons why drivers leave the scene:
- Intoxicated driving: It is likely that about half of hit-and-run drivers leave because they would face drunk driving charges if they remained at the scene.
- Unlicensed driving: Police theorize that the other half of hit-and-run drivers are driving without a valid license.
North Carolina criminal penalties are based on heavily-layered and complex rules. Although it is difficult to predict the punishment an offender would receive for either of these crimes, the penalties are likely to be more severe than those imposed for hit-and-run driving.
A hit-and-run conviction involving serious injury or death can land offenders in prison for up to 62 months. If they have no prior convictions, however, they might walk away with probation. Therefore, drivers who cause accidents might believe they are at a lower risk of punishment by leaving the accident scene than might be the case if caught on a DUI or unlicensed driver charge.
How Should Hit-and-Run Accident Victims Pursue Their Claims?
The quickest way for victims to pursue compensation for injuries and other damages is typically by filing a UM claim with their own insurance company. Unfortunately, this coverage carries limits that may not cover all losses, particularly in the case of serious injuries or loss of life.
Naturally, police do everything possible to locate the missing driver, and victims can help by providing all possible identifying information about the vehicle and the driver. In the event that police capture the hit-and-run driver, and particularly if he or she is convicted, it may be possible to pursue compensation directly from the offender.
Seek Experienced Legal Advice to Learn About Your Options
The ability to successfully pursue compensation from a hit-and-run accident depends on many factors — most notably the proper handling of an Uninsured Motorist claim. Even before the police can catch the offender, it may be helpful to schedule a free initial consultation with a Charlotte hit-and-run lawyer who can explain all available legal options, help with insurance claim litigation and use investigative resources to help locate the offender. Call us at 800-948-0577, or use our convenient online contact form.