What to do After a Las Vegas Hit-and-Run Accident
Being involved in a car crash is traumatic, both for the at-fault driver and the injured victim or victims. However, some collisions, including a Las Vegas hit-and-run accident, are especially traumatic and even horrific. Victims left at the scene, especially pedestrians and cyclists, are often further injured by other vehicles. What began as a terrible accident can become a serious crime for the at-fault driver. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a hit-and-run accident, High Stakes Injury Law is ready to help. Our licensed Las Vegas car crash attorneys have extensive experience advocating for injured victims. We have the staff and resources to help you hold the at-fault party accountable for his or her actions. There are no upfront costs or fees if we represent you. Our staff is available to take your call anytime, night or day.
What Should You Do if You are the Victim of a Las Vegas Hit-and-Run Accident?Whatever you do, never try to chase a driver who flees the scene of a crash. This could make matters worse, especially if you suffered injuries or vehicle damage. Staying at the scene is your best chance of capturing evidence before it is lost. Other steps you should take immediately after a hit-and-run crash include:
- Trying to get the driver’s license plate number: In addition to getting the license plate number, note, if possible any identifying details that may help. This could include the make, model and color of the vehicle, noticeable vehicle damage or bumper stickers. If you got even a glimpse of the driver, anything you remember could be helpful.
- Calling 9-1-1 for help: Getting first responders to the scene immediately afterward could increase the chances of the police finding the driver of the vehicle that hit you.
- Seeking emergency medical care: Whether or not you feel pain, you may have sustained internal injuries in the crash.
- Capturing the scene with your smartphone: Do not put yourself in any danger to do this. However, if you can, safely photograph or capture video of the crash scene. Be sure to include road debris and the vehicle damage to your car.
- Think through the events that led up to the crash: This is information you should write down as soon as you can. People forget important details as more time goes on.
- Checking for dash cam or traffic videos: If you do not have a dash cam, maybe another driver who witnessed the crash did. Sometimes victims get lucky and there are traffic cameras that catch what happened.
- Looking for witnesses: A credible witness can also help to testify about what happened. In some cases, you may even find someone who saw the driver.
- Calling an attorney to seek legal advice as soon as possible: Calling a licensed attorney even before you speak with your insurance provider may be a good idea. An attorney can help you avoid making mistakes that could hurt your claim. He or she can also handle the insurance company on your behalf.
Can I Pursue Compensation After a Las Vegas Hit-and-Run Accident?According to Nevada state law, the at-fault party would be liable for any damages you sustained in the crash. There are a couple of ways you may be able to seek compensation if the at-fault party does not stop.
Police Locate and Identify the at-Fault DriverIf police locate and identify the driver, you may be able to file a claim against his or her auto insurance policy. Unfortunately, drivers who flee the scene may have no insurance, or not enough to cover the costs of your damages.
The Driver is Never Located or Has No InsuranceIf authorities are unable to track down the driver who caused the hit-and-run crash, you may have to file a claim another way. If you carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), then you may be able to file a claim through your own policy. In this scenario, you can recover up to your UM/UIM policy limits. This is why it is a good idea not to reject UM/UIM coverage.
Why Hit-and-Run Crashes Often HappenHit-and-run accidents typically happen because the driver is afraid of getting caught. People may flee the scene of a crash if they were:
- Driving a stolen vehicle
- Behind the wheel with an expired or revoked license
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distracted or texting at the time of the crash
- Carrying illegal contraband, such as weapons or drugs
- Driving with no insurance and/or license
- An illegal immigrant
Hit-and-Run Accidents are on the Rise in Las VegasHit-and-run crashes are on the rise, not just in Las Vegas, but across the U.S. According to the AAA Foundation, there have been approximately 682,000 hit-and-run crashes every year for the last decade. In Nevada, hit-and-run crashes have increased as well. In July 2021, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Traffic Bureau reported 1,811 hit-and-run accidents for the year. While that number was said to be average, 12 of those crashes were fatal, a considerable increase over prior years.
What If You Cause a Crash in Las Vegas?The most important thing is to remain calm and stay at the scene of the crash until you meet your legal duties. In Las Vegas, or anywhere in Nevada, these legal obligations include:
For Crashes with Property Damage OnlyPull over and stop your vehicle, but make sure you are out of traffic and harm’s way. Exchange contact and insurance details with the other party. Call police. If police do not respond, as they may not if the accident is minor, you must still report the incident.
A Car Crash Causing Bodily Injury or DeathDrivers who cause a crash involving serious bodily injury or death are legally required to stop. Other legal duties in this situation:
- Calling 9-1-1 to make sure the injured victim gets medical attention
- Remaining at the scene until authorities arrive
- Giving your contact and insurance details to the other party/police
- Cooperating with the police officer who responds to the scene
Leaving the Scene of a Crash is a Serious Crime in NevadaUnfortunately, in seconds, drivers make decisions that turn an accident into a crime. While drivers may be at fault in many of these crashes, that is not always the case. For instance, if a drunk jaywalker darted out in front of your vehicle and you had no time to stop. However, even if you were at fault, the charges are likely far less severe than if you flee the scene. In Nevada, leaving the scene of a car crash that you caused or were involved in is a crime. Hit-and-run drivers who are caught face serious charges and other penalties, including:
- Crash with property damage only: This is a misdemeanor offense in Nevada. Charges and penalties may include:
- Up to six months in jail
- $1,000 in fines
- Six demerit points on your driver’s license.
- Collision caused injuries or death: Offenders may be charged with a category B felony. The sentence for this criminal offense is:
- Two to 20 years in Nevada State prison
- $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
- A revoked driver’s license