A hit-and-run accident can cause a lot of damage, yet the at-fault party does not stay to take accountability for his or her actions. In the most recent year data is available, police received reports of about 737,100 hit-and-run cases in the country. 2016 had the most hit-and-run deaths on record (2,049) in the U.S. Learning Arizona’s hit-and-run laws could help you understand your rights as a victim. You may still be able to receive compensation even without knowing the identity of the at-fault party.
What Is a Hit-and-Run?
Every state has duties of care drivers owe after causing car accidents. Arizona Revised Statutes 28-663 is the state’s law regarding a driver’s responsibilities after an accident involving property damage, injury or death. Failing to remain at the scene and fulfill these duties constitutes the crime of hit-and-run.
- Exchange driver names, addresses and vehicle registration numbers
- Show driver’s license to the victim, if requested
- Provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured, including calling 911
If the owner of the struck vehicle is not at the scene, the at-fault driver has a duty to expend reasonable effort trying to locate the owner. If the driver is unsuccessful, he or she must leave a note in a conspicuous place on the damaged vehicle with his or her name, phone number and insurance information. Failing to leave a note after striking a parked car is a hit-and-run.
Penalties for Hit-and-Run
ARS 28-663 also describes the penalties for failing to fulfill the requirements of the law after a car accident. Failing to comply with either of the first two requirements is a class 3 misdemeanor. This crime comes with a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in county jail. If the accident only involved property damage, ARS 28-662 states the crime of a hit-and-run is a class 2 misdemeanor. This could lead to driver’s license suspension and fines.
Failure to fulfill the third requirement, assisting someone injured, is a class 6 felony in Arizona. The consequences are up to one year in prison and/or fines. Should the police find evidence that the at-fault driver was driving under the influence (DUI), the driver must submit to a drug or alcohol screening. A DUI conviction related to a hit-and-run could lead to more serious charges and penalties. The at-fault driver may face a class 3 or 4 felony and spend up to three years in jail.
Recovering Compensation After a Hit-and-Run
As the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Arizona, it is not up to you to file criminal charges against the at-fault driver. The city will do this for you. While you may cooperate with the criminal investigation and could receive judge-ordered restitution from a conviction, your main recovery will stem from a civil lawsuit against the driver. It is up to you or your personal injury attorney in Phoenix to file a civil lawsuit claiming damages against the hit-and-run driver within two years of the collision. A civil claim could result in compensation to cover your losses.
- Reimbursement for all crash-related property damage repairs
- Payment for past and future personal injury treatments
- Compensation for lost income and earning capacity from the accident
- An award for physical pain and personal suffering
- Punitive damages to punish the defendant for committing the crime of hit-and-run
The civil claims process often starts with a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. The insurance company may then work with you to arrange a settlement – or else deny your claim. If you receive a denial or the insurance company will not offer what your lawyer believes is a fair amount, you can take the driver to court in pursuit of financial recovery. Hiring an attorney to help with each step of your hit-and-run accident lawsuit could improve your chances of winning. Contact Begam Marks & Traulsen, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation with an injury lawyer to explore your legal options