Goldstein, Heslop, Steele, Clapper, Oswalt & Smith

Rise in fatal hit and run crashes means potential legal problems

According to recent figures, the number of deaths due to hit-and-run accidents is at an all-time high, at least dating back to 1975, when statistics were first officially kept.

Although experts are still trying to put a finger on exactly why, the number of fatalities due to hit-and-run car accidents has risen almost consistently since 2012, with only one slight decrease in the number between 2013 and 2014.

Overall, since 2012, the number of deaths due to hit-and-run accidents has increased by 35 percent, from 1,512 fatalities up to 2,046 fatalities in 2016, which was the last year statistics were available. This also marks a 60 percent increase over the same number in 2009.

Most of these fatalities, that is two out of three, are either pedestrians or bicyclists. Presumably, it is easier for a driver to leave the scene in such cases, as their vehicles are less likely to be disabled.

Although any fatal accident can raise legal issues for families who are seeking compensation for the loss of their loved one, these types of accidents can be particularly challenging. For instance, in a typical accident, the first place victims will look for compensation is the responsible driver's insurance company. Unfortunately, most hit-and-run drivers, two-thirds in the case of fatal accidents, are never found.

What this means is that a family may have to look to other sources for recovery of their medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income and other damages. Doing so is not always an easy task, as it means knowing with whom to file a claim and what process to use. Moreover, it may take some effort to get the responsible insurance company to pay compensation.

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