North Carolina drivers should be aware that hit-and-run accidents and associated fatalities are reportedly on the rise. According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of fatal accidents where the responsible driver leaves the scene has risen to 1,449 in 2011 from 1,274 in 2009. The report notes that the 13.7 percent increase in hit-and-run accidents is significant as the number of overall traffic deaths fell 4.5 percent within the same period.
When the data from the hit-and-run accidents were analyzed, it was discovered that 60 percent of fatal hit-and-run accidents involve pedestrians. The president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicated that drivers are more likely to leave the scene if they feel that they have a reason to do so. For example, the driver may be driving under the influence, may be driving on a suspended license or even just be very young.
Los Angeles, California, was reported to have an incredibly high percentage of hit-and-run accidents, with approximately 48 percent of all accidents in 2009 being hit-and-run. This was significantly higher than the national percent in the same year, in which 11 percent were hit-and-run. In order to combat this, a California assemblyman introduced a bill that will extend the statute of limitations from three years to six years. The bill will go into effect July 1, 2014.
Hit-and-run car accidents have the potential to leave pedestrians or other drivers and their passengers seriously injured. However, someone who suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to a hit-and-run accident can still seek compensation, even if the driver cannot be found. In most cases, those injured can seek compensation from their own insurance company or, if the driver is found before the statute of limitations runs out, from the responsible driver's insurance company. An attorney could help someone understand their rights when a life event such as a hit-and-run occurs.
Source: USA Today, "Fatal hit-and-run crashes on rise in U.S.", Larry Copeland, November 10, 2013