Hit And Run Accident Lawyer Wheeling, IL

Hit And Run Accident Lawyer Wheeling, IL

Hit and run accidents can be extremely devastating for victims as not only do they have to contend with the injuries and property damage, they may never find the culprit who caused their suffering. Hit and run accidents can result in severe injuries and deaths, especially for pedestrians and cyclists. Fortunately, there are ways for you to get justice in a hit and run car accident case. You may need the assistance of an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process. However, before you contact a Wheeling car accident lawyer, it is best to have a basic understanding of laws that apply to hit and run auto accidents in Wheeling, IL. 

Photo of Wounded Legs of a Boy

What is a Hit and Run? 

A hit and run car accident is when a motorist crashes into another motorist, property, or person and drives away from the accident site without providing their contact information or insurance details. A hit and run is a serious offense and can result in severe penalties for the perpetrator. 

In a typical auto accident, a responsible driver checks on the safety of everyone involved in the accident and calls the authorities if anyone needs medical assistance. They also exchange their contact information, insurance details, and if needed, they wait for the police to arrive at the accident scene to make a report. 

According to NHTSA crash data from 2020, 2564 people died in hit and run car accidents in 2020. This was an increase of 26% from 2019. The data also shows that 1582 pedestrians and 202 cyclists died due to hit and run accidents in 2020. Pedestrians and cyclists have an increased risk of suffering severe injuries in auto accidents as they have little to no protection.   

Why Do Drivers Flee the Accident Scene?  

A hit and run is a serious offense, you would think that if someone is committing this crime, they would have a strong motive to flee the scene of the accident. While this is true in some cases, it is not always the reason. Some drivers run because they panic. They fear that they will be held responsible for the accident, and if they can run away, they might escape the penalties.

In some cases, a drunk driver flees the scene to avoid DUI charges. Other reasons include having an outstanding warrant or having prohibited items in their vehicle, causing them to flee the scene in fear of being caught by law enforcement officials. 

There are also cases where drivers flee because they don’t have insurance or the financial means to cover any damages. Unfortunately, the drivers who commit hit and runs don’t realize that by fleeing the car accident, they make the situation worse for themselves. 

While it is not always clear why drivers flee, it is not fair to the victims, and anyone who commits a hit and run should be held responsible for their actions. 

Common Injuries in Hit and Run Accidents in Wheeling, IL 

Hit and run accidents can result in various types of injuries depending on the collision. Some of the most common injuries include: 

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) 
  • Whiplash 
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Neck injuries
  • Burns 
  • Internal bleeding 
  • Paralysis 

Hit and Run Car Accident Laws in Wheeling, IL 

Under Illinois state law, hit and run accidents can be punishable by up to 14 years in prison, license suspension, fines, and other types of penalties. Leaving the scene, even if there is only property or vehicle damage, is a misdemeanor. In addition, if the accident involves a personal injury or death, you are required by law to call the police. The only exception to fleeing the scene of the accident is if you fear for your safety. 

Accident with an Attended Vehicle or Property in Wheeling, IL 

The state laws state that a driver involved in an auto accident with property or vehicle damage to an “attended vehicle” must remain at the scene and comply with all requirements. The violation of this rule can result in a misdemeanor charge punishable by fines up to $2,500 and 1 year in prison. The state can also impose a license suspension based on the severity of the damages.  

Accident with an Unattended Vehicle or Property in Wheeling, IL 

If the accident happens with an “unattended vehicle” or “property damage,” the driver is required to either try to locate and notify the owner of the vehicle or property or attach a written notice with their contact details to the vehicle or property. 

The driver is also required to immediately notify the police about the accident. A hit and run to an unattended vehicle can result in a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 12 months in jail and fines. 

Accident Involving Personal Injury or Death in Wheeling, IL 

According to Illinois state law, if a driver is involved in an accident that results in personal injuries or death, they must stop and wait for law enforcement officials to arrive at the scene. The driver should try to minimize any obstruction to traffic.

If the driver fails to stop, they can face a class 4 felony charge, which is an extremely serious criminal offense. It is a hit and run car accident if the driver leaves the scene without sharing their contact details and rendering aid or getting help to the injured. 

Generally, a felony charge has a three-year statute of limitation, but this can change depending on the nature of the charges. For example, if an additional charge of manslaughter is included, there is no statute of limitations. 

Photo of a Reckless Driver

What if the Hit and Run Driver Can’t Be Found?

Unfortunately, it is possible that the hit and run driver is never found. It is highly recommended not to follow the driver who flees the scene. This can result in further accidents, risking the well-being of others on the road and potentially causing more property or vehicle damage.

All you can do is trust the law enforcement official to keep looking for the missing driver. What is in your control is to alert the police as soon as possible so they can gather actionable evidence to find the perpetrator. You can also assist their investigation by sharing information about the other driver, such as the license plate number, make, model, and color of the vehicle, and any other descriptive information. 

Don’t wait too long to call the police, as useful evidence may be lost due to the delay. For example, the police might need witness statements to catch the hit and run driver. 

While you shouldn’t try to find the driver yourself, you can gather other types of evidence from the crash scene to strengthen your claim or lawsuit. Try to take photos and videos of the injuries and property damage caused by the accident. You can also get witnesses’ contact information. Most auto insurance companies require you to notify them of a hit and run within 24 hours for the claim to be considered a hit and run case. 

Does Auto Insurance Cover Hit and Run Accidents

If you are involved in a hit and run car accident,  your auto insurance policy might cover some of the expenses. This will depend on the state and your insurance policy. Your collision coverage will help pay for the replacement or repair of the vehicle. Even if the other driver is not found, you may be able to claim compensation through your collision coverage. 

In some states, your underinsurance auto insurance will help pay for lost wages, medical expenses, and vehicle damage if the other driver is at fault in the accident.  

According to Illinois auto insurance requirements, drivers are required to carry a minimum bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. The minimum liability for property damage is $20,000. For uninsured motorist bodily injury, the minimum required is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. 

Average Settlement Amount In Hit And Run Car Accidents

The average settlement amount in hit and run car accidents in Wheeling, IL is difficult to provide as each case is different. There are many factors that determine the average settlement amount, including state laws, official assessment of injuries and damages, admissible evidence, insurance policy, and more. There are some online settlement calculators for calculating settlement amounts in auto accidents in Wheeling, IL, but they are typically not specific enough to be of much help. 

Similarly, the time frame for the case is also difficult to predict as it depends on the specifics of your case. It can take time to gather evidence to build a strong case. The best way to determine the settlement amount and time frame is to consult an attorney, who will review the facts of your case and guide you on what to expect.

Impact of a Hit and Run on Auto Insurance Premiums 

Unfortunately, a hit and run car accident can increase your auto insurance premiums, even if you were not at fault for the accident. This mostly happens if you have an accident-free discount, which could be removed after any type of car accident.

If you were at fault for a car accident, you can expect a much larger increase in your insurance premiums. The increase depends on several factors, including your state and insurance provider. Even if there is no immediate rise in your premium, the accident will go on your insurance record, and that could negatively impact your future auto insurance rates. 

Compensation Available in Hit and Run Accidents 

If you suffered in a hit and run car accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation, but it can be a challenging process. In a typical auto accident, the auto insurance of the at-fault driver pays for your damages, but that might not be the case if you can’t locate the hit and run driver. If the driver is never found, you have to seek compensation from your insurance company. Your uninsured coverage protects you if you get into a car accident with an uninsured driver. 

You can be eligible to receive compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. All your financial losses, such as lost wages, medical bills, and vehicle repair costs, are part of your economic damages. 

Your non-economic damages include your mental health suffering due to the accident.  A hit and run accident can have a major impact on mental health. Not only do you have to contend with the shock and trauma of being in an accident, but you can suffer from feelings of helplessness, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and loss of enjoyment of life. 

Photo of Aggressive Driving

What Makes a Hit and Run Claim Different From Other Car Accident Cases?

A hit and run car accident has some key differences from other car accident claims or lawsuits. The differences are mainly due to the fact that the other driver fled the scene of the accident, so you would have issues establishing liability for the accident. 

Another key difference is that fault is not always a given. This means that even though the other driver fled the scene, that does not automatically make them at fault for the accident. They will be penalized for the hit and run, but the fault for the accident would still have to be established. 

How Can an Attorney Help? 

While hit and run accidents can be devastating for the victims and make it difficult to receive compensation, you can increase your chances of getting justice by hiring an experienced attorney. They can assess your case to guide your legal options and help you through each step of the legal process. Most importantly, a lawyer allows you to focus on your recovery while they take care of the legal proceedings. 

Evidence in hit and run cases can also be challenging to obtain, so you might need the assistance of a lawyer. An experienced lawyer can use their extensive network to gain access to evidence that might otherwise not be available to you. This includes testimony from experts or CCTV footage of the accident. 

A lawyer can also help you negotiate with the insurance company, which will try its best to downplay your injuries and use different tactics to minimize their payout. They often try to pressure the plaintiff into accepting a lowball offer by convincing them that they might not get any compensation if they don’t accept the offer. With a lawyer on your side, you have expert guidance to help you communicate with the insurance company. 

You can schedule a consultation with us at the Law Office of Jack M. Shapiro, P.C. We offer a free consultation session for our clients in Wheeling, IL and nearby locations. Our car accident lawyer will assess all your damages to calculate the compensation for your damages. With our experience in hit and run cases, we know exactly what to do to get justice for our clients. This includes managing all the paperwork and communicating with the insurance company. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Allow us to fight for your rights.