Hit-and-run accidents can be a legal nightmare for victims
Causing a car accident is not necessarily a crime. But fleeing the scene of an accident is. A Laurel woman could face felony prosecution for allegedly driving drunk, hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene.
Although the victim died, witnesses were able to give police info that led to an arrest. But what if a hit-and-run driver is not identified? Who pays if the guilty party gets away?
Maryland law on hit-and-run accidents
Maryland statute requires any driver who is involved in an accident to render aid to the injured, provide personal information, and stay at the scene until police arrive. It is a misdemeanor to leave the scene of a property damage accident, but a felony to flee the scene of an accident resulting in injury or fatality
In the March 4 accident in Silver Springs, witnesses say the driver who struck a pedestrian stopped her car, got out of the vehicle ... but then drove away without giving first aid or calling 911. Fortunately police soon tracked down the woman, identified as a 30-year-old Laurel resident. She was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Once the investigation is concluded, she could face additional felony charges such as leaving the scene of an accident and vehicular homicide.
Who pays if the driver is not identified?
Sometimes drivers flee the scene, out of sheer panic or cold calculation. Even when there are no eyewitnesses, many hit-and-run cases are eventually solved. A Baltimore man was recently arrested one year after the fact of causing a fatal pedestrian accident.
But if the driver is never identified, the injury victim or the grieving family are left with medical bills, loss of income and other fallout. For insurance purposes, a hit-and-run accident is treated the same as an uninsured driver accident. You probably have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage under your own auto policy. However, insurers often dispute such claims or offer lowball settlements.
Whether or not the other driver is ever identified, the best recourse is to contact a personal injury attorney who can protect your legal rights and pursue all sources of compensation.