Reporting an accident to the police and noting down crucial information about the fleeing motorist are key steps for victims to take following a hit-and-run accident. Recording witnesses’ details, documenting the accident scene, seeing a doctor, involving a hit-and-run attorney, and filing a claim with the relevant insurance company, are other essential after-crash steps. These after-crash steps help safeguard the legal rights of the injured motorist in a hit-and-run crash. Nevada law requires people involved in an accident to stay at the accident scene to offer first aid to the injured parties, exchange information, and wait for police officers to arrive.
In Las Vegas, motorists sometimes leave the accident scene, especially if they were drunk driving, uninsured, or have outstanding arrest warrants or tickets. Even after a hit-and-run accident, the injured victim can still pursue compensation. If the fleeing driver is found and carries car insurance, the victim can file a claim to recover damages or losses. If the fleeing driver is not found, an accident lawyer will investigate the crash and the victim’s auto insurance to determine the available legal options and potential sources of compensation for the victim.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident happens when a motorist leaves an accident scene without providing first aid and exchanging crucial personal and insurance information with the other driver. In Las Vegas, hit-and-run charges range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the nature and extent of the victim’s injuries.
Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Las Vegas
Staying Calm and Moving to a Safe Location
A hit-and-run accident victim is still required to take extra safety measures, even after getting involved in a crash. The accident victim should move the vehicle to a safe location. If the victim is on a bike or foot, the victim should move to the side of the road. These measures guarantee the safety and well-being of the victim as he or she takes the next after-crash steps.
Reporting the Crash to the Police
If the liable driver flees an accident scene, the hit-and-run victim should report the crash to the police. This allows investigations to commence immediately. Calling the police right away increases the odds of catching the hit-and-run driver.
Noting down the Details of the Fleeing Driver’s Car
After calling the police, the accident victim should note down all important details about the fleeing driver’s car while the memory is still fresh. The victim should jot down details, such as the car make, model, color, and license plate number. The victim should also record any unique designs on the fleeing car. These details will help the investigators in their effort to locate the negligent driver.
An accident victim should take pictures of the accident scene. The victim should document any relevant information that may help strengthen the accident case. The victim should, for instance, take photographs of the injuries sustained, vehicle damage, skid marks, and nearby traffic signs. If there are parts of the at-fault driver’s vehicle on the road, the accident victim should take their pictures. These pieces may help in the identification of the hit-and-run driver.
Gathering Details of the Witnesses
Getting the current contact information of any person or another driver who witnessed the crash is crucial. While collecting this information, the accident victim should obtain assurance from the witnesses on their willingness to testify.
Seeking Medical Attention
Getting prompt medical care is a wise move, even if the accident victim feels okay. Some injuries, such as whiplash and traumatic brain injury (TBI), take days or weeks before presenting any symptoms.
Records of delayed, or lack of, medical care may sabotage the victim’s efforts to obtain compensation. It is wise for injured persons to adhere to all treatment recommendations and guidelines from the doctor.
Keeping Proper Documentation
Accident-related documents help determine the severity of injuries, damages, and losses suffered. A hit-and-run victim should keep accident-related documents safely. These documents include medical records and invoices, car repair receipts, and records of alternative transportation expenses for victims who cannot walk.
Retaining a Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney
A hit-and-run accident victim should consider retaining a car accident attorney to help navigate the legal hurdles. An attorney who understands the hit-and-run statutes in Las Vegas, Nevada will help the victim understand his or her rights and the best course of action.
The attorney will work closely with law enforcement officers and investigators to identify the at-fault driver. The attorney will determine all sources of compensation available to the hit-and-run victim. The attorney will also initiate talks with the relevant insurance companies. Doing this allows the victim to focus on getting quality medical care and recovering from the injuries.
Filing a Car Accident Claim with the Relevant Insurance Company
The last after-crash step is to file a claim with the relevant insurance company, or companies. The accident victim may need to provide medical records, photo evidence, and a copy of the police report along with the accident claim.
Why Do Drivers Flee the Accident Scene in Las Vegas?
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Drunk driving is one of the leading factors contributing to hit-and-run accidents rising every day in Las Vegas. Because of their impaired judgment and thought process, drunk drivers think that fleeing the accident scene will help them avoid legal consequences. In essence, a hit-and-run accident worsens the situation for these drivers.
Drivers in Nevada must satisfy the minimum liability insurance requirements before operating a vehicle. Uninsured drivers flee the accident scene in an attempt to avoid criminal charges, jail times, and other penalties associated with driving a car without the necessary insurance. They may also think that fleeing will help them avoid personal financial responsibility for the crash.
Presence of Outstanding Tickets or Arrest Warrants
A driver with an outstanding arrest warrant or ticket may escape from a crash scene to avoid getting involved with the police. If a police officer performs a background check on such a driver, the outcome will be an arrest.
Presence of Other Legal Problems
If the at-fault driver is an undocumented immigrant, is on probation, or lacks a valid driver’s license, the driver may consider fleeing the scene. The driver may think that fleeing the accident scene is the best strategy to avoid entanglement with the police.
Nevada Hit-and-Run Laws
NRS 484E.10: Duty to Stop in the Event of Bodily Injury or Death
This law requires a driver to stop and remain at an accident scene when a crash causes personal injury or death. The driver can leave the scene only after rendering aid, exchanging information, and the arrival of a police officer.
NRS 484E.020: Duty to Stop in the Event of Vehicle or Property Damage
This law requires the driver to remain at the crash scene if an accident results in property damage worth more than $750. If possible, the driver should move the car to the side to avoid more accidents and traffic build-up. This law also requires the driver to file an accident report with the police. Failure to file a report may lead to a one-year suspension of the driver’s license.
NRS 484E.030: Duty to Exchange Information and Provide First Aid
A driver involved in an accident in Las Vegas must stop at the accident scene. This duty applies whether the driver is liable for causing the accident or not. Under this Nevada law, drivers involved in a crash must assist any person who sustains injuries from the accident and exchange information.
NRS 484E.040: Duty to Stop When an Accident Causes Damage to an Unattended Property
Under this law, a driver must stop after causing damage to an unattended property like a parked vehicle. The driver must try to find the property’s owner. If the driver cannot find the owner, this law requires the driver to leave a note containing personal and contact details.
Pursuing Compensation After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Las Vegas
Pursuing compensation after a hit-and-run accident can be a daunting task. This is especially true in identifying the liable party in the crash. With more drivers embracing vehicle dash cams, identifying the at-fault party in a car crash is gradually becoming easier. Dashcam footage can provide clear evidence of who was liable for the car crash and specific details of the event.
Besides video and audio, some dash cams can even record the car’s speed at the time of the accident. A dash cam can also capture the details of the fleeing driver in the event of a hit-and-run accident.
If the fleeing driver is liable for the accident, the Nevada law deems that driver legally responsible for any injuries and property damage arising from the crash. If the at-fault driver is arrested and carries car insurance, the accident victim may then file a claim against the driver’s insurer for the damages suffered.
If the liable driver remains at large, an accident attorney can investigate the crash and the victim’s auto insurance policy to determine other possible compensation sources available to the victim. The three alternative insurance coverages that residents of Las Vegas and Nevada can purchase to protect themselves in the event of a hit-and-run accident include
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM): This policy covers losses if the liable driver carries no auto insurance.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): This policy covers the remainder if the liable driver’s insurance cannot cover the full extent of the victim’s losses or damages.
- Medical Payments Coverage (Med Pay): This optional form of auto insurance pays for the losses of the injured driver and the passengers. In Las Vegas, people injured in a hit-and-run accident who don’t have UIM can use Med Pay to cover the cost of their injuries.
Accidents sometimes lead to the death of one or several parties involved. If a person loses a loved one in a hit-and-run accident, the person can file a hit-and-run wrongful death claim against the liable party, or the liable party’s insurer. If the fleeing driver stays on the run, an attorney can review the deceased person’s auto insurance policy and find potential sources of compensation for the surviving family member.