How Long After a Hit and Run Accident Can You Be Charged?

Photo of a Pedestrian Crossing the Street

Leaving the scene of a car accident is a serious matter that will usually result in severe consequences. Known as a hit-and-run, when the driver is located, they may face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.

If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident and need help recovering your financial losses from your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages, you should contact a law firm for Personal Injury in Encino to understand more about your legal options.

What Are Hit-and-Run Accidents?

Hit-and-run accidents occur when someone is in a car accident and then leaves the scene. This car accident could be with either another motor vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, or even a stationary object such as a wall or fence. The biggest element in a hit-and-run accident is that the person who caused it leaves the scene of an accident without providing contact information, insurance information, or medical assistance to anyone who has been injured.

In a hit-and-run accident, those found guilty can be sentenced to up to three years in prison, depending on the severity and factors of the car accident.

What Is the Hit and Run Statute of Limitations in California?

The statute of limitations for a hit-and-run accident is the amount of time provided to file charges against the liable driver. In a hit-and-run car accident, the statute of limitations will vary based on whether the act was a misdemeanor or felony.

Misdemeanor hit-and-run accidents are generally those that have resulted in minor property damages. For these cases, the prosecution has up to one year to file charges.

For a felony hit-and-run car accident, the perpetrator will have caused injuries to another person. In this case, the prosecution has a three-year statute of limitations to file charges.

What Are the Criminal Penalties a Driver Could Face for a Hit and Run Accident?

Hit-and-run accidents are a serious offense whether they are charged as a misdemeanor or felony. One factor that increases the charges is whether or not there was bodily injury. If you are the injured person in a hit-and-run accident, you will surely want to see justice served.

The criminal penalties for felony hit-and-run car accidents in California will involve up to three years of prison time and fines up to $10,000. Hit-and-runs are misdemeanors when only property is damaged, but they can still come with serious fines of up to $5,000 and up to a year of jail time.

Administrative Penalties for the Hit-and-Run Driver

Beyond the criminal penalties, there are other ways to hold the at-fault driver accountable. In addition to jail and fines, they will face driver’s license suspension and restrictions. California uses a point system, adding two points to a driver’s record for these offenses.

Drivers in the state are labeled as negligent drivers for these actions and could have their driver’s license suspended or revoked for compiling four or more points in 12 months.

Additionally, these drivers face an increase from the insurance company because they will be considered more dangerous.

Civil Penalties That May Apply for a Hit and Run Accident

In addition to misdemeanor or felony hit-and-run charges, civil penalties are another possibility for those who cause car accidents and leave the scene.

Those who have been injured in a hit-and-run accident can file a civil case to recover their financial losses. This will generally start with an insurance claim, though legal assistance from a hit-and-run attorney may be needed due to the complexities of these types of cases and state laws.

The damages for serious injury in a hit-and-run accident tend to be much larger than those a victim would collect in another car crash. This might not be the case for an accident with minor property damage, such as if another driver hit your parked car in a parking lot. However, if they left the accident scene without providing reasonable assistance, you can expect that your attorney will fight for justice on your behalf.

What Can You Do About a Hit-and-Run Accident in California?

If you come out of your home or a place of business and find your vehicle has been hit by another driver or you are in an accident and the driver leaves the scene, you have legal rights. Those who are involved in a hit-and-run should seek legal counsel to ensure they aren’t left in the lurch.

You should call 911 and let the police officer who arrives know what happened for the accident report. Provide as many details as you can recall about the other vehicle such as the make, model, color, and license plate number. Witness statements can also be beneficial for detailing the hit-and-run driver’s care and how they looked.

Get the legal help you need from the right lawyer who will ensure you file your lawsuit within the time limit. They will help see to it that the prosecution presses charges and works to get you the compensation you deserve.
The Law Offices of Rosenstock and Azran are committed to helping you recover your damages after a hit-and-run accident. You can learn more about us and how we have helped other injured victims in similar circumstances. We pride ourselves on developing a strong attorney-client relationship and are backed by over 82 years of combined legal experience. Contact us today and set up a free consultation to get the legal help you need.


Category: Car Accidents