Hit and run accidents: What causes the driver to run?

Those who have lost a loved one or have been seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident have many questions. They are suffering from the loss, but they must also deal with the fact that someone didn’t care enough to stop and seek help. Why do people drive away from accidents, in particular, pedestrian accidents? Is their flight caused by the fight-and-flight response or something more sinister?

Sometimes, fear is the reason. A Pennsylvania man recently apologized for hitting and killing a pedestrian and then driving away on July 21st. He told the court that he had panicked when he fled the accident scene. But what was he afraid of — the accident itself or the repercussions?

Other reasons that people hit and run include:

  • They fear criminal liability
  • They cannot afford the cost of civil liability
  • They were driving drunk or under the influence of drugs
  • They had contraband in their cars
  • They are not legal immigrants
  • They do not have a driver’s license or their license is suspended
  • They didn’t know they hit someone

None of these reasons are acceptable. Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents carry very few consequences, such as a year in prison. The real relief must come from a personal injury lawsuit, where a family may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, funeral bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other damages. It may also be possible to ask for punitive damages, which punish a driver for his or her actions.

In some cases, police simply cannot find the person who committed the hit and run and the family is left to fend for itself. If the victim had uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, it is possible to bring a claim against the victim’s own insurance company.

To learn more about your options after a hit and run, please visit our pages on Pennsylvania car accidents.

Source: Philly.com, “Woman, 52, killed in Southwest Philadelphia hit-run,” Morgan Zalot, Dec.3, 2012

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