How a Hit-and-Run Affects an Injury Claim
If you have been injured by a driver who fled the scene — whether you were a pedestrian or in a car, truck, or motorcycle at the time of the accident — then you may not only be entitled to compensation for your injuries under Arizona law, but your claims may also be affected by the fact that the defendant did not remain on the scene.
Though Arizona law expressly forbids hit-and-run conduct — drivers must remain at the scene of an accident (which involved property damage and/or injuries) until authorities give them permission to leave — these scenarios are unfortunately common. The shock of a hit-and-run can give some plaintiffs pause. As such, it’s worth getting in touch with a qualified Phoenix injury lawyer for guidance.
Hit-and-run accidents can significantly influence how litigation plays out — in many cases, the conduct of the defendant could undermine their arguments and make it easier for you to recover. On the other hand, the defendant might have successfully evaded authorities, making it a challenge to identify them and thereby secure compensation.
Let’s briefly explore some of the ways in which a hit-and-run accident can influence your injury claims.
Identifying the Driver
Drivers sometimes feel guilty after initially fleeing, and either return to the scene of the accident or turn themselves into police soon thereafter. In many cases, however, the driver may simply flee without intending to contact the injured victim or relevant authorities. If the defendant-driver successfully evades authorities, then this can lead to some difficulty in identifying them for the purpose of notification of service. Further, if you don’t have any leads on their name and identity, then you will not be able to recover damages.
Your attorney will help you in a number of ways. For example, there may be clues left at the accident site that may help piece together the identity of the defendant. Eyewitnesses may also be helpful in this regard. Alternatively, there may be surveillance footage of the accident, with identifying information (i.e., a license plate number) clearly represented in the footage.
In those rare instances where the driver simply cannot be identified, your attorney may be able to develop a case strategy in which you target the remaining liable defendants — perhaps the entity that controls the roadway — to secure at least partial compensation for your injuries.
Weakening the Defendant’s Arguments
Hit-and-run drivers are typically a “bad sell” to the jury. Quite simply, the fact that they fled the scene will be interpreted as an admission of guilt, or at the very least, as indicative of some flaw in their moral character — this is particularly true in cases where the plaintiff has suffered serious injuries. If you are injured in a hit-and-run accident and you successfully identify the defendant and bring a claim against them, you are likely to have an easier time securing compensation.
Of course, hit-and-run accidents are not necessarily random. In many cases, a driver flees the scene because they have clearly violated the law in some way, and they are nervous about confronting authorities about said violations. For example, if the driver is intoxicated at the time of the accident, they may flee the scene in an attempt to avoid the substantial criminal and civil penalties.
If you can determine that there was some other violative behavior that led to the hit-and-run conduct, then you may further strengthen your claim (and in a drunk driving scenario, may even be entitled to a punitive damages award).
Contact an Experienced Phoenix Injury Lawyer for Help
If you have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident where the defendant-driver fled the scene of the accident in a hit-and-run scenario, then you may be entitled to sue and recover damages under Arizona law. Hit-and-run claims often involve unique conflicts that require skilled legal advocacy to navigate.
Given the likelihood of complication, it’s important that you seek the assistance of an experienced team of attorneys who have successfully litigated hit-and-run accident claims in the past.
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our attorneys have many decades of experience representing injured plaintiffs throughout Arizona, and in a wide range of motor vehicle accident lawsuits, including hit-and-run cases. We are well-equipped to identify the defendant, argue persuasively in your favor, and help you secure the damages to which you’re entitled. We only get paid if you secure a favorable verdict or settlement, and further, we offer discounted contingency fees, so you can keep a greater portion of your damage award for yourself.
Call 602-535-1900 or submit an online claim form today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Phoenix injury lawyer here at Hirsch & Lyon. We look forward to assisting you.