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Hit and Run vs. Leaving the Scene: What You Need to Know

Hit and Run vs. Leaving the Scene: What You Need to KnowImagine you are driving on the highway and another car accidentally rear-ends you when you abruptly braked for traffic. Unfortunately, it caused some significant damage to both you and your car. Instead of pulling over to check on you and report the accident, they continue to drive away. While this example is a little more extreme, it is sadly not all that unlikely.

Chicago has been rocked by one hit-and-run accident after another and there does not seem to be an end in sight. Whether the hit-and-run accident ends in a minor injury or the loss of a loved one, you deserve to be compensated for your damages in one way or another and a Chicago personal injury attorney can help you in such a difficult time.

Just a few months ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a 16-year high for traffic fatalities in 2021, with motor vehicle crashes causing nearly 43,000 deaths. Even more concerning, fatal hit-and-run accidents specifically went up by 26% this past year.

What is the difference between a “hit-and-run” and “leaving the scene?”

You may have heard the terms “hit and run” and “leaving the scene” being tossed around, but what exactly is the difference between them? Essentially, a hit-and-run accident is the same exact thing as leaving the scene of an accident. It is when a car causes damage, either to a car or another person, and leaves the scene without stopping. So why are both terms used?

The difference depends on who is describing the accident.

If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, it is likely that you are talking to both a lawyer and the police. The minor difference between “hit and run” and “leaving the scene” comes up by who is describing it. Someone like a personal injury lawyer will call it a hit and run because they are describing a type of accident. However, a police officer or other law enforcement personnel will call it fleeing or leaving the scene because they are describing a type of crime.

Your options as a Chicago hit-and-run victim

The good news is, if you have been involved in an accident where the person who caused the damage fled the scene, you do not have to go through it alone. If the responsible driver is caught, then you can start to pursue a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a Chicago attorney immediately. If the responsible driver has not yet been located by authorities, then you still have other options. You can file a claim through uninsured motorists insurance (UM). In Illinois, UM coverage includes all damages –economic and non-economic – like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability, and loss of normal life.

If the hit-and-run driver is found by police, you can receive compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitative costs, renovations to your home or vehicle if you were paralyzed in the crash, and more.

Chicago has a duty to protect its citizens from hit-and-run accidents

The sad fact of the matter when it comes to hit-and-run crashes is that they can be prevented. While you cannot prevent all accidents, you can do your best to reduce the frequency of them, and the city of Chicago has a duty to protect its residents. Chicago can begin to fix the hit-and-run problem by doing the following:

  • Install cameras, everywhere
  • Upgrade the streetlights
  • Extend curbs and install speed bumps
  • Perform extensive studies on where the most hit-and-run crashes occur to target high-problem areas
  • Find ways to acquire funding for more police officers who can help reduce the number of crashes

What should I do after a hit-and-run accident?

While the police will handle a lot of the details when it comes to documenting a hit-and-run accident, you are also encouraged to record everything yourself, as you may be able to go into greater detail or recall certain specifics that the police did not see for themselves. Whether you are pursuing a personal injury case in Chicago or not, it is important to document as much evidence as you can. It will make everything much easier for both your lawyer and the police.

If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, make every effort to do the following:

  • Report the make and model of the car. It is possible that you may not have even noticed what kind of car the other driver had, but any information you remember is valuable. This will help police limit their pool of suspects.
  • Take pictures. Police may do this as well, but it never hurts to take photos of your car, any skid marks, and where the accident took place to have for your own records.
  • Record witness statements. Again, the police will likely do this as well, but asking for your own witness statements and getting any witness’ phone numbers could be helpful for your lawyer if you pursue legal action.
  • Copy surveillance footage. Look for any CCTV cameras nearby or cameras from independent storefronts or parking lots, depending on where your accident happened. This could help identify the car that caused the accident and show exactly what occurred.
  • Seek medical help. Once you see a doctor, they will detail any injuries you sustained from the accident, prescribe any medication, and list a treatment plan going forward. These notes will be extremely important if you are pursuing a personal injury claim.

If you or a loved one were injured in a hit-and-run accident, you may be eligible for compensation. Suffering an injury in a Chicago car accident can be devastating, and you may feel like you have nowhere to turn. But our experienced injury attorneys at Gainsberg Law, P.C., can help. Call our office at 312-600-9585, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.