Los Angeles is not only notorious as the metropolis with the most crowded freeways, but also as the “hit-and-run capital” of the nation. According to a Curbed LA news report, the city saw 54 fatal hit-and-run crashes just last year. But, the report says what’s worse is that a vast majority of these cases don’t yield arrests and/or convictions. The article says there were more than 100,000 hit-and-run cases in the city of Los Angeles from 2014 to 2018.
A Serious Issue in LA
Of those 23,698 were felony hit-and-run cases, meaning someone was hurt or killed in the crash. However, fewer than 16,000 drivers were arrested in a four-year time span. And only 715 of them were arrested on suspicion of felony crimes. Prosecutors with the LA District Attorney’s office won convictions in just 169 of the cases investigated by the LAPD.
Hit-and-run cases can be tried as a misdemeanor or a felony. So, in less severe crashes, drivers may be charged with misdemeanors. Similarly, in fatal hit-and-run crashes, drivers have been charged with more serious crimes such as vehicular manslaughter, and in some cases, even murder. Officials say that when a lower percentage of drivers are convicted of felonies, it perpetuates a culture in which fleeing the scene of a crash might just become routine behavior.
Studies also show that the severity of hit-and-run crashes appears to be increasing as well. The number of people who have been badly hurt or killed in hit-and-run accidents increased each year between 2014 and 2017 before taking a modest 5 percent dip in 2018. In 2014, 27 people were killed in hit-and-run crashes and in 2018, 54 people died in hit-and-run crashes. In Los Angeles, hit-and-run collisions accounted for about 25 percent of fatal traffic accidents.
If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit-and-run crash, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your rights. First, make sure you file a police report. Inform your auto insurance company about the incident. Collect as much information from the scene as possible including eyewitness information.
See if you can get a license plate number for the hit-and-run vehicle or at least a partial license plate number. Secure prompt medical attention, care and treatment for your injuries. Contact an experienced Los Angeles hit and run lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and help ensure that your rights and best interests are protected.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney will also be able to guide you regarding how your own auto insurance policy might work in a case where the hit-and-run driver hasn’t been apprehended or where the driver is uninsured or underinsured.