Everything You Need to Know About Hit-and-Run Trucking Accidents
For most people, leaving the scene of a car accident is unthinkable. But unfortunately, it happens far more often than you may think. Motivated by fear, adrenaline, or intoxication, many drivers leave the scene of an accident, assuming that means they won’t be punished for causing harm to another person.
Fleeing the scene of an accident, also known as a hit-and-run, can leave victims suffering serious or even fatal injuries for longer than they would have if 911 had been contacted. For many reasons, fleeing the scene of a trucking accident is a crime that often results in a more serious penalty than the accident itself.
How Often Do Drivers Flee the Scene of an Accident?
The Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that a hit-and-run accident occurs once every 43 seconds in the US alone, with over 2,000 fatalities resulting from hit-and-run crashes in 2016. Additionally, according to AAA, hit-and-run deaths have increased by 7.2% each year since 2009, with nearly 65% of fatalities belonging to accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists.
Why Do Hit-and-Run Accidents Happen?
The most common reason why people flee the scene of a trucking accident is that they are intoxicated. According to AAA, drivers who flee the scene of an accident are up to nine times more likely to have been intoxicated at the time of the incident than those who do not run. While this may seem tempting to avoid the consequences of drinking and driving, it’s not. Drivers responsible for a trucking hit-and-run typically serve increased jail time and penalties.
So who is more likely to be involved in a hit-and-run accident than others? A few common factors seem to play a role in those involved in trucking hit-and-runs, including:
- Distracted driving
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Driving a truck over the allowed mileage/hours
- Intoxication level
- Previous history of DWIs
- Panic/adrenaline triggering the fight or flight response
- A suspended or expired driver’s license or CDL
- A truck driver who failed to realize they caused an accident
What are the Consequences of Fleeing the Scene of a Trucking Accident?
While hit-and-run accidents can prove challenging to solve, it is certainly not impossible. Evidence has become much easier to collect with the modern abundance of dashboard cams, camera phones, and security cameras. Additionally, eyewitness reports, tread marks, broken glass, and photos can further help to bring the perpetrator to justice. And while South Carolina does allow dashboard cameras by law, it’s also important to note that they must not be mounted to the front windshield or any other windows in the vehicle.
By law, truckers must follow several safety regulations, including how many hours they can drive, what training they receive, how to load equipment safely, how frequently they perform maintenance on their truck, and several other rules pertaining to safety. This is critical because a trucker who has violated one of these safety laws in the event of a crash is more likely to pay a settlement to the victim of an accident, including instances of hit-and-runs.
Once the suspect is caught, the driver faces severe legal penalties, including jail time, license suspension, fines, and financial compensation for the victim. In some states, a hit-and-run can also be grounds for felony charges and possible jail time of up to 10 years.
What Happens if the Person Who Caused the Hit-and-Run Isn’t Caught?
Sometimes it isn’t possible to locate the truck driver responsible for a hit-and-run. If the driver who caused the incident isn’t found by law enforcement, then the victim won’t be able to seek monetary payment from them. In these instances, they must rely on their own insurance policy to cover the costs of the damages. Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection offers compensation for damage caused by another uninsured driver or when the guilty party cannot be found.
If you have been a victim of a hit-and-run, speaking with an attorney is an excellent step to ensuring that you receive the total compensation you deserve from your insurance company, especially if they’re offering an insufficient amount to cover the costs of damages from your accident. Furthermore, they may also be able to direct you to additional programs which offer financial assistance for victims of car accidents.
What to Do If You’ve Been A Victim of a Hit-and-Run Trucking Accident
First and foremost, do not leave the scene of the trucking accident. It may feel tempting to chase after the truck that caused your collision but leaving the scene of an accident by either party is a criminal offense. Instead, try to:
- Obtain the truck driver’s license plate number
- Write down the make, model, color, and any other identifying features of the truck
- Record the exact location of the accident
- Speak to any witnesses immediately and record any contact information
- Immediately record any details of the accident as soon as possible
- Call 911 to report the incident
You may have heard of people who fled the scene of a truck accident to no consequence. However, fleeing the scene of a car or truck accident not only puts the victim’s life at risk but also makes you liable for far more severe charges than you would experience had you not left the crash site.
If you or someone you love has been a hit-and-run victim, it’s incredibly vital to seek the advice of an experienced lawyer who can help you receive the full compensation you deserve. A car accident attorney will guide you through the process of negotiating with insurance companies and ensure you receive the best offer for your claim.