People underestimate how deadly a hit and run accident can be. It is more than just an inconsiderate and cowardly act to try to avoid accountability for a car accident. The driver leaving the scene of the accident is at risk of causing more harm to more people as he or she attempts to get away.
One personal testimony of how a hit and run accident can change a person’s life is Sebastian Taylor, a Chicago resident who was a victim of a hit and run accident this past June. Taylor, his fiancée Selina, and his two sons were on their way home from a Juneteenth celebration around one in the morning. Suddenly, their vehicle was struck by someone driving a stolen car with the lights off at the intersection of State Street and Pershing Road. Sebastian and their older son were lucky enough to survive; tragically, Selina and their infant son did not. The driver of the stolen car has not been identified since fleeing the scene.
As regular readers of our blog are aware, Gainsberg Law has been documenting the number of hit and run accidents in our city. Over the past year, there have been a larger number of hit and run accidents, deaths, and incapacitating injuries. Sadly, we know we have missed many along the way, because some days, it feels like there are simply too many for us to keep track of.
But the city has been running the numbers. Chicago has seen the highest number of hit and run accidents over the past four years. A local analysis of the city’s data showed that there were 439,688 car accidents from November 1, 2017, to October 31, 2021. Out of those accidents, 130,536 accidents were classified as hit and run accidents. Chicago has seen 36,305 hit and run accidents within the past 12 months, averaging out to about 100 each day. This past June, the city saw its highest number of hit and run accidents of any month in the past four years.
What is a hit and run accident?
A hit and run accident happens when a driver involved in a car accident leaves the scene without stopping to exchange information or wait for the authorities to arrive. There are different elements of a hit and run accident for each state, as well as different legal consequences.
However, most states have laws that specify a driver’s responsibilities after an accident, and a driver can be responsible for committing a hit and run accident if those responsibilities are not met. In Illinois, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries is a Class 4 felony.
Hit and run accidents are not victimless crimes. Drivers who commit hit and runs can cause serious injuries or fatalities, and substantial property damage.
The consequences of the increase in hit and run accidents
Unfortunately, the spike in a hit and run accidents also led to a spike in traffic accident fatalities. There have been a total of 40 deaths in hit and run accidents within the past year, double the amount of deaths that happened the year before. The city’s data revealed that August 2021 and December 2020 tied for the deadliest months, with six people killed each month as a result of hit and run accidents.
This past July had the highest number of hit and run accidents involving incapacitating injuries, with a total of 69 victims. According to the city’s data, the past year saw a total of 515 people suffering severe injuries due to hit and run accidents. The number has increased each year over the past four years, from 417 in the 12 months ending with October 2018, to 424 the next year, to 451 the year after that, and currently increasing to well over five hundred. This data reflects that the city has seen record-breaking numbers in every hit and run metric, from the most deaths to the most serious injuries to the most crashes.
What responsibilities do drivers have after accidents?
Regardless of the state in which you live, as a driver you have a legal responsibility to stop your vehicle after an accident and exchange information with the other driver(s). You are also responsible for exchanging your information with any property owners, passengers, or other victims who were injured in the accident. You should also contact local law enforcement and report the accident when injuries occur. Failing to do so is against the law. In addition to stopping your vehicle and exchanging your information, you also have a legal responsibility to assist any injured people on the scene.
What can you do if you are a victim of a hit and run?
In these terrible circumstances, your options after a hit and run will be determined by the exact circumstances of the incident. In a best-case scenario, you sustain only property damage and you can file a claim under your own UM/UIM policy to repair your car. If you sustain an injury, you can still use your UM/UIM policy. If you have MedPay as part of your policy, you can use that to help with your medical bills, too.
But you also have the right to use your health insurance for care. Often, using your health insurance is the better option for you, because the prices for health insurers are typically less than those for your car insurer. The hospital, you should know, cannot demand that you submit your car insurance instead of your health insurance.
If you are struggling with the insurance companies, a Chicago hit and run lawyer can help. Gainsberg Law has helped many hit and run victims obtain their policy limits, and we can help you, too. If the person who caused your injuries is apprehended, we can also pursue a claim against their insurance. These are challenging cases, but we will help you work through it all, and fight to ensure that you get the help you need.
If you or a family member was injured in a hit-and-run accident, trust Gainsberg Law P.C. to aggressively advocate for the compensation your case deserves. Our Chicago car accident attorneys provide clients with knowledgeable and responsive service. Call us today at 312-600-9585 or fill out a contact form to schedule an initial consultation today.
Neal S. Gainsberg has spent the last 20 years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. From consumer rights and bankruptcy to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, Mr. Gainsberg stands up to large corporations, insurance companies, creditors and hospital administrators to ensure that his clients’ futures are safe and secure. Learn More