Hit-and-Run Accidents on the Rise
It is bad enough to be involved in a serious or deadly car accident but if the other driver takes off before law enforcement arrives it becomes a Hit-and-Run accident. When the other driver flees the scene, they are leaving the injured party in an even more precarious position for their health and for filing an insurance claim.
Sadly, after a 19 percent increase in hit-and-run accidents between 1999 and 2001, the rate has continued to grow every year since 2003. Hit-and-run accidents affect pedestrians too; one out of every five pedestrians killed on the roads dies from a hit-and-run accident.
But why would someone flee the scene of an accident without even checking on the victim in the other car. Does a person’s moral code play into their decision to stay or flee? One would like to think that if a person injures another in an accident that they would feel compelled to help or at least see if they are okay.
What Contributes to Hit-and-Run Accidents?
Each person has their own reasons for fleeing the scene of an accident but it generally comes down to self-preservation over personal responsibility. In many cases, people flee because they are driving without a license, they are illegal immigrants, there is an active search warrant for their arrest, or they are intoxicated. Their hope is that by fleeing they can avoid legal consequences or deportation but the reality is that they usually end up in even more legal trouble.
According to the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety, 21 percent of all fatal crashes that occurred between 1993 and 1999 involved drivers who lacked a valid driver’s license. It is impossible to know exactly how many drivers are unlicensed but it is estimated to be in the millions. Unlicensed drivers are found to be 66.36 times more likely to be a hit-and-run driver than a licensed driver.
A report by FARS indicated that the seven states with the highest hit and run fatalities directly corresponded to the states with the largest populations of illegal immigrants.
There are several crimes that could pile up on a person involved in a hit-and-run accident. The initial accident may not be a crime but if a person is unlicensed or intoxicated, they could end up facing criminal charges. Fleeing the scene is a serious crime but, in the moment, many feel it is easier to run then face other consequences. Strict drinking and driving polices have done much to decrease drunk driving (since 1991 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have declined by 26 percent) but sadly they may also be contributing to higher rates of hit-and-run accidents as people fear the ramifications of being caught for driving while intoxicated. A person with a warrant for a very serious crime may deduce that getting caught for fleeing the scene of an accident is less of a risk than facing consequences for a previously committed crime.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!