Legal Options in Hit-and-Run Claims
In some California jurisdictions, the hit-and-run closing rate is less than 10 percent. In other words, almost all these accidents go unsolved. Many people think that if authorities do not locate, charge, and convict the tortfeasor (negligent driver), they cannot obtain fair compensation for their serious injuries. But in most cases, that’s not true, as outlined below.
Courtroom advocacy skills are always important in personal injury claims. But laying the groundwork is usually even more important. If the house is built on sand, the insurance company usually has little trouble knocking it over, regardless of the builder’s skills. A San Jose car accident attorney must work extra hard to build this foundation in hit-and-run claims. Frequently, police investigators give up so quickly because there is simply nothing to go on. So, a lawyer must start from square one.
Before you start any journey, it’s important to know where you’re going. So, before an attorney starts collecting evidence, an attorney must be aware of the burden of proof in a civil case. This knowledge is second nature to most experienced lawyers.
In criminal court, prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This high burden of proof discourages many hit-and-run investigators. Basically, there must be an overwhelming amount of evidence which places the criminal defendant behind the wheel at or near the time of the wreck. Collecting this much evidence means expending considerable resources which could be used elsewhere. So, these cases are often low priority.
A San Jose personal injury, on the other hand, gives your case the highest priority. That’s partially because the burden of proof, which is a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), is much lower.
Assume a hit-and-run driver strikes and kills a pedestrian at night. The only witness said the tortfeasor drove a dark sedan with a license plate number which ended in “T.”
Police investigators might not even bother to follow up. That amount of evidence might be enough to question some drivers. But it’s probably not enough to obtain a search warrant or arrest a driver. It’s certainly not enough to convict a defendant.
But this evidence is probably more than enough to locate the vehicle’s owner. And, since it’s more likely than not that the owner was also the driver, that’s also enough to establish liability for damages.
These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Gathering Evidence in Hit-and-Run Claims
People like our hypothetical witness often do not come forward at the time of the accident. These individuals often think that they have nothing important to say, since they did not see the actual crash. But an attorney or a private investigator knows how to connect with these people.
Electronic evidence, mostly surveillance camera footage, is also often critical in these claims. Even if the camera only caught a glimpse of the tortfeasor’s vehicle, as discussed above, this evidence could break the case wide open.
Even if a lawyer cannot locate the hit-and-run tortfeasor, compensation might still be available. Generally, these victims can file claims against their own insurance companies.
Count on a Dedicated Attorney
Hit-and-run victims have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in San Jose, contact Solution Now Law Firm. Home, virtual, and after-hours visits are available.