Hit and Run Accidents
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident in St. Louis, then the following frequently asked questions may help you to know what to do.
A hit and run accident is when a driver of a vehicle hits another car, pedestrian, biker, another vehicle, or object, which may be property or not, such as a tree or a utility pole. It does not matter if you were the one who caused the accident. If you leave the site of an accident without an excusable purpose, such as to get help or get cell phone service, and if you do not return then you are considered having fled the scene, which is a crime.
According to Missouri Revised Statute 577.060.1, you cannot leave the scene of an accident until you have exchanged information with the other driver(s) involved, such as their name, contact information, and insurance policy information.
What Happens with a Hit and Run Accident?
Unfortunately for victims, it is extremely difficult for police to track down criminals without identifying information, such as a license plate number, if the other party fled the scene of the accident before exchanging information. However, there are some things you can do while at the scene of the accident to potentially help your case:
- Call 911 and get checked by medical personnel if you sustained any injuries.
- Immediately write down every detail that you remember about what happened, including road conditions, the make and model of the other car, if you notice anything in particular before the accident that could have contributed to it (i.e. seeing the car swerving in and out of lanes, or coming up behind you very quickly)
- Get the contact information of any witnesses.
- If you’re in a neighborhood or shopping center, or another likely area to have security cameras, then you will want to write down where they are. That footage might be useful in proving who is at fault.
- Take pictures of your vehicle, your injuries, and your surroundings. You want to get pictures from different angles, such as wide angles that encompass everything to small details. These pictures are important to share with your attorney. If you were injured, then you will want to continue taking pictures of your injuries as they worsen or heal.
Hit-And-Run Statute of Limitations
Under Missouri law, injured parties for a hit-and-run accident have five years from the date of the accident to file a claim. It’s important to file your claim as early as possible.
Is a Hit and Run Considered an At-Fault Accident?
Yes, for a few reasons. If you have uninsured motorist protection on your policy, then your accident will not be considered at-fault. But if your collision policy is used to repair damages to your car, then you will have to meet a deductible, and you will be considered at-fault. Speaking to an car accident attorney about the specifics of your case and the law is highly recommended.
What Happens When a Hit and Run Driver is Caught?
Anyone who has been caught fleeing from an accident faces civil, administrative, and criminal charges. Administrative penalties on your driver’s license are issued by the DMV and include suspension. It is important to note that it is a misdemeanor in Missouri to leave the scene of an accident, so there will be criminal charges if a driver was found leaving the scene of an accident where someone was injured. Civil charges may come in the form of the other driver suing you for the accident.