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Hit and Run Accidents

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    A hit and run accident is when a driver hits either a parked car, another vehicle on the road, or a pedestrian and then leaves the scene. Under Maryland law, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident, but this is, unfortunately, a common occurrence.

    • According to AAA research, a hit and run fatality occurs more than once every minute in the United States.
    • For the past 10 years, a fifth of all pedestrian and bicycle fatalities occurred as a result of hit and run accidents.
    • Fatal hit and run accidents increased from 1,342 in 2010 to 1,939 in 2019; this is an increase of 44%.
    • According to a 2021 article in Maryland Reporter, the number of hit and run accidents in Maryland has “reduced substantially” after the installation of on-road cameras.

    Maryland hit and run codes (abridged):

    § 20-103.

    A driver who hits attended property or an attended parked vehicle must stop as close to the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic. The driver must remain at the scene of the accident until he has complied with the requirements of statute § 20-104.

    If the driver doesn’t comply with this transportation code, he can be imprisoned for up to 2 months, fined up to $500, or both.

    § 20-104.

    A driver who is involved in an accident where another person is injured must stay, render assistance, and make sure that the person gets medical help. In addition, the driver must give his name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he is driving and, on request, exhibit his driver’s license to the other driver, anyone injured, and any police officer who arrives at the scene of the accident.

    If a driver doesn’t comply with this transportation code, he can be imprisoned for up to 2 months, fined up to $500, or both.

    § 20-102.

    A driver who knew or should have known that a person has “serious bodily injury” but who didn’t stay at the scene of the accident is guilty of a felony. If convicted, the penalty can be imprisonment for up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

    A driver who knew or should have known that an accident might result in the death of another person (and that person did die) is guilty of a felony. If convicted, the penalty can be imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

    § 20-105. A driver who is involved in an accident with unattended property or another vehicle must attempt to find the owner and furnish his name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he is driving.

    If no one is available, the driver must include this information in a written note in a conspicuous and secure place in or on the damaged property or vehicle.

    If the driver doesn’t comply with this transportation code, he can be imprisoned for up to 2 months, fined up to $500, or both.

    § 20-106. If a driver strikes and injures a domestic animal (pet), he must immediately notify the appropriate State or local police about the accident

    Recent Maryland hit and run accidents:

    • December 4, 2021: A man was arrested at a worksite in Montgomery County, Maryland three months after being involved in a fatal hit and run accident in Reston, Virginia. On September 1st, his SUV ran a red light and hit a Volkswagen whose driver was making a left turn. The SUV driver left the scene on foot, and the driver of the second car died of his injuries in the hospital.
    • November 28, 2021: A 45-year-old female pedestrian was struck and killed by a hit and run driver near Winters Run bridge in Hartford County. After an investigation, state troopers located the vehicle (and driver) believed to be responsible for the accident.
    • November 14, 2021: A 26-year-old man who was pulled over to the shoulder and standing outside of his Infiniti was struck and killed at the on-ramp to Eastbound Route 50 by a hit and run driver. The driver’s truck then crossed two lanes of traffic and overturned before the driver ran into the woods. He was later apprehended by Maryland State Police officers.
    • November 13, 2021: A Maryland State trooper in a marked state police car in Hollywood, Maryland was struck by another vehicle that left the scene. The driver was later apprehended and charged with “Negligent Driving, Failure to Immediately Stop Vehicle at Scene of Accident Involving Bodily Injury, Failure of Driver at Crossover to Yield Right-of-Way to Vehicle on Highway, Failure to Control Vehicle Speed on Highway to Avoid Collision, Failure of Driver in Accident to Furnish Required ID and License, and Failure of Vehicle to Yield at Intersection Right-of-Way to Another Vehicle.”
    • October 31, 2021: A 26-year-old man changing his tire on the side of the road in Silver Spring, Maryland was struck by an unknown silver vehicle that left the scene.

    Although many hit and run accidents are solved, Maryland has many accidents that are not solved. For more information on several of these cases, please read our article, Maryland Has Many Unsolved Fatal Hit and Run Crashes.

    Why do drivers leave the scene of the accident?

    There are many reasons why someone would leave the scene of an accident. If logic always triumphed, no one would leave, but often people are too panicked to be able to think straight or afraid of getting in trouble for something else. People may flee the scene of an accident for these reasons:

    • They have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs.
    • They are avoiding the police because they have a warrant out for them for another crime.
    • They don’t have a current driver’s license.
    • They are driving without insurance.
    • They are afraid of the other driver (perhaps there is an angry altercation).
    • They have no money and are trying to avoid insurance deductibles or fines.
    • They do not believe that they are at fault.
    • They do not think there is any damage.
    • They are confused and do not realize that they have to stay.
    • They are driving a stolen vehicle.
    • They have illegal substances or weapons in the car.

    How are hit and run drivers tracked down?

    • These days, many drivers have dash cams that could not only show the accident itself but also the license plate of the car that hit them. After that, it is simply a matter for the police to solve with records.
    • Traffic cameras can show the same information.
    • The Yellow Alert program, which went into effect in 2015 can disseminate information across the state through highway signs and phone alerts. People who notice the offending vehicle can call with information and the location.
    • Often witnesses come forward.
    • Body shop workers come forward when they notice damage consistent with a hit and run. This happened in a 2018 case in Edgewater where a woman told the body shop that she had hit a deer, but workers had suspicions.

    What should you do if you are involved in a hit and run accident?

    Many of the things you should do after a hit and run accident are the same procedures you would follow after any accident. You can read about all of these in our article, 10 Things to Do After a Baltimore Car Accident.

    • Stay calm and check on anyone else who is in the car with you.
    • If you are a cyclist or pedestrian, get to a safe place at the side of the road so that you are not struck by another vehicle.
    • Call the police or 9-1-1.
    • If possible, take a picture of the other car involved in a crash, including the license plate. If the driver leaves before you can pull out your phone, try to repeat the license to yourself until you can write it down. If you can’t see the license plate, try to take note of the color and model of the car, plus details about the driver’s appearance. Any details help.
    • Gather information from witnesses
    • Record details. Even if you have nothing to write with, you can record voice memos on your phone so that you don’t forget anything.
    • Call a doctor or go to the emergency room, depending on your injuries. Even if you don’t think you have been injured, see a doctor as soon as possible. Often people who have been in accidents don’t realize that they are in pain because of the adrenaline and shock. Car accidents are extremely traumatic. This can be compounded when the person responsible leaves the scene and you are left in confusion.
    • Call your insurance company.
    • Keep records of all doctor’s visits, including receipts.
    • Contact an experienced car accident attorney. There were 32,315 injury crashes in Maryland in 2020, 506 fatal crashes, and 80,226 property damage crashes. The qualified car accident attorneys at Zirkin & Schmerling have vast experience negotiating with insurance companies as well as building cases to present before a judge and jury. We will make sure that your rights are protected.

    What if the other driver isn’t found?

    • Even if the other driver is found, you will still need to prove that he or she was at fault. You will also need to prove the damages that you sustained as a result of the accident.
    • If the other driver isn’t found, you will still be entitled to compensation from your insurance company.
    • Under Maryland traffic law, all owners of motor vehicles must buy and maintain at least the minimum level coverage for bodily injury liability, property damage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. You can read about this in detail in our article, What to Do When an Uninsured Driver Causes Your Car Accident.

    If the other driver is found…

    • You can make a claim through the other driver’s insurance company.
    • If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you will make a claim through your own insurance.
    • Your attorney can file a civil suit against the other driver.

    Contributory negligence

    • The police and your attorney need to prove that the other driver was at fault in your accident and that you were not at fault because Maryland will bar you from receiving compensation if you were in any way (even 1%) responsible. In other words, if you “contributed” to your injuries, an insurance company may try to prove that you don’t deserve compensation.
    • Contributory negligence is a harsh law shared only by Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Washington D.C. It is why having a skilled car accident attorney is so important. Your lawyer can help you build a compelling case that supports your innocence and puts the blame where it belongs.

    Statute of Limitations

    In Maryland, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. This is laid out in Statute: §5–101:

    A civil action at law shall be filed within three years from the date it accrues unless another provision of the Code provides a different period of time within which an action shall be commenced.

    However, it is always best to consult an attorney as soon as possible, especially in the case of a hit and run accident that may need careful investigation to prove the other driver’s fault.

    What can you be compensated for?

    You may be awarded various types of damages after an auto accident. Consider whether you have suffered any of the following damages and discuss them with your accident and personal injury attorney.

    1.    Medical Expenses:

    Maryland uses the collateral source rule to allow plaintiffs who have been injured in auto accidents to recover damages for medical expenses, even if insurance covers them. If you have been injured, you may be able to recover damages for past and future medical expenses that can be attributed to the incident.

    2.    Property Damage

    In an auto accident, the primary property damage is to the vehicles. You may be able to recover the cost of your vehicle, and possibly other property that was destroyed inside the vehicle at the time of the collision.

    3.    Lost Income

    Did you miss work because of the accident? Was your business significantly impacted? You may be able to recover past and future lost wages or income by filing a lawsuit.

    4.    Pain & Suffering

    After an accident, the pain and suffering you experience can seep into every aspect of your life. Pursue compensation for your physical and mental suffering, so you have the resources you need to move forward with your life.A hit and run accident is jolting, traumatic, and dangerous. It could even be deadly. You don’t have to fight your way through this catastrophe alone. Schedule your free case consultation today with the compassionate and experienced attorneys at Zirkin & Schmerling Law Office.

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