Hit & Run Accidents: Why They Happen & What to Do After One

After a hit and run accident, survivors are often frustrated by the feeling of not being able to hold the person who harmed them accountable. For most car accidents, those who are not at fault for them can obtain financial damages caused by the responsible party’s negligence. However, when the person who causes an accident does not remain at the scene, it can feel impossible to obtain justice afterward. Victims of hit and run accidents might be surprised to find out that all hope is not lost after their accident.

Why Do People Flee the Scene of an Accident?

Fleeing the scene of an accident is never acceptable, but there is a pattern of thoughts and motives that influence hit and run accidents. Sometimes, the person who caused the accident knows that they are at fault and might drive away because they are uninsured. The state of Pennsylvania requires that drivers carry a specific amount of insurance. Many who know they do not meet requirements try to escape the consequences of their negligence. Other times, a driver under the influence of alcohol may panic and flee the scene of the accident. In some cases, they might be so intoxicated that they don’t even realize they caused an accident.

Some experts believe that human psychology could cause drivers to flee the scene of an accident. According to the Washington Post, drivers in America crashed and fled the scene more than 2,000 times daily in 2015. The psychological cause of hit and run accidents? An emotional reaction.

Psychologist Emanuel Robinson studied hit and run accidents and found that many drivers react emotionally to an accident, causing them to flee the scene. According to Robinson, if they’ve done something horrible, drivers tell themselves that the accident was minor so they can justify leaving the scene. Psychologists refer to this urge as “fight mode,” and it’s one of humankind’s earliest survival reactions.

In the past, we used fight mode to react to situations that happened to us. We ran from animals that were trying to harm us and ran toward the ones that we needed to survive. We used it for survival because we needed it. Today, this instinct interferes with a human’s decision making, and it typically causes them to make the wrong one.

The human brain reacts to serious accidents with extreme, and sometimes unbelievable, behaviors. In one instance referenced by the Washington Post, a man was driving under the influence and struck a cyclist. Lodged in the car’s windshield, the cyclist turned to communicate with the driver who ignored him until he pulled in front of his own home. The driver served a three-month jail sentence and lost his driving privileges. Other victims of hit and run accidents are not as lucky as this cyclist and are either left at the scene seriously injured or are killed.

How the Law Protects Hit & Run Accident Victims

Pennsylvania law requires that any driver involved in a car accident to share their name, address, insurance, and registration information with the other party. If injuries occurred during the accident, the other party (and witnesses) have a legal obligation to render aid to the injured until help arrives. If someone leaves the scene of an accident, they will face criminal penalties once caught.

Leaving the scene of an accident carries the following criminal penalties:

  • A minimum of 90 days in prison or a minimum of 3 years if the offense is grossly negligent
  • A fine of at least $1,000 or $2,500 if the offense is grossly negligent

Though those who are suffering because of a hit and run driver might be satisfied knowing that the person who hurt them will face criminal charges if caught. However, they’ll still face the financial challenges of their injuries.

Recovering Losses When a Hit-And-Driver Is Not Found

Having adequate car insurance is the best way to recover losses from a Pennsylvania hit-and-run accident. To claim for an accident where the other party is not found, a driver will have to rely on uninsured motorist protection. After a hit-and-run accident, claimants should immediately call the police. Filing a report quickly establishes credibility with your claim and strengthens your chances of a settlement by providing a clear record to your insurance provider.

Even if you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage, it’s crucial to contact an experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorney who can recover damages. Insurance companies are a business, and they’ll deny, delay, or offer a low settlement to save their bottom line. When authorities are unable to locate the driver who caused an accident, an insurance company might use this as an excuse to deny a claim based on a lack of evidence for fault. An experienced attorney from Handler, Henning & Rosenberg can fight for your maximum recovery. 

We’ve been fighting for clients since 1922 and are proud of the tens of millions of dollars that we’ve been able to secure for them. If you’ve suffered from a hit-and-run accident in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Carlisle, or any other part of Pennsylvania, our lawyers are ready to fight for you. We know that our clients need compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other difficulties so we only collect a fee if we recover these for clients!

Call us today for a free consultation at (888) 498-3023. Our team of Pennsylvania hit-and-run accident attorneys is ready to hear your story.


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