The number of hit-and-run accidents in England and Wales has jumped by 60% over just one decade, turning these types of motoring offences into a real ‘pandemic’. Unfortunately, the drivers who flee the scene are rarely apprehended.
Just like regular car crashes, hit and runs can result in serious bodily injury or property damage, but unlike your run-of-the-mill traffic collision a hit and run that never gets solved leaves very little room to the victim to get the right compensation for his or her injuries and pain.
What is a hit and run?
A hit a run is a car accident where the at-fault driver flees the scene with total disregard of the victim’s injuries or property damage he or she has caused. Some hit-and-runs are intentional, but in others, the at-fault driver may not even know what he or she has done.
There are three common types of hit-and-runs:
- A hit-and-run may happen when you are already in a vehicle and another driver rams into your car and drives off.
- Other hit-and-runs happen to cars in parking lots (the victim learns about the damage after the accident has happened and the liable party is long gone).
- Hit-and-runs may affect pedestrians too, including drivers that have left their cars for a few brief moments and got hit by a vehicle whose driver decides to flee the scene.
What percentage of hit and runs are solved?
The short answer is not that many. Hit and runs are a common occurrence on the nation’s roads with many going unreported, but most of them rarely get solved. It is estimated that over 90% of hit and runs never get solved as the driver is never identified. Over the last decade, the number of hit and runs jumped 60% in England and Wales, with London reporting nearly 5,000 people being injured or killed in a hit and run within the city’s limits every year.
In 2017, there were over 28,000 hit and runs on the United Kingdom’s roads. According to police forces, just 8 to 10% of hit-and-run accidents are resolved. While authorities put the blame on lack of evidence, staffing shortages are also an issue. Major cities usually must deal with 300 to 400 hit and runs every month, but routinely just 4–5 investigators handle them.
This means that one police investigator has to solve around 100 cases each month or 5 cases per day. What’s more, the hit and runs that are more likely to get solved are a priority and victims are rarely being kept up to date on the proceedings. Some victims claim that they’ve found out that their case had been closed from television even when the hit and run had caused them tremendous injuries.
What needs to be done after a hit and run?
- Dial 999 immediately if you or a passenger has been injured
- Report the accident to the police
- Get as much information about the vehicle that hit you as you can (including model, colour, condition, licence plate number even if you can only recall it in part)
- Secure eyewitnesses’ names and contact info
- Take photos of the scene, your injuries, and extent of damage to your car and personal belongings (You may need these for the insurance claims investigation or a personal injury lawsuit if the at-fault driver ever gets caught.)
- If you’ve witnessed a hit and run when the driver of the damaged car is not around, leave your contact info in a note along with details of the vehicle that left the scene.
- File an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance carrier if he or she is caught or with your own insurance carrier, your policy permitting.
- Seek access to traffic footage from nearby cameras (You may need help from a lawyer to subpoena those records.)
- Hire a personal injury lawyer if the at-fault driver has been identified.
Your chances to recover compensation for the resulting damages in the wake of a hit-and-run crash largely depend on your local police’s ability to apprehend the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, many hit-and-run cases are closed because of lack of evidence, even though staff shortages may play a part too.
Securing the right evidence as soon as the accident has occurred can greatly boost your odds of identifying the other driver and of getting the justice that you are due. But the first thing you need to do is report the accident, unless you or somebody else has been injured, in which case you should turn getting medical attention into your top priority.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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