Hit and Run Accidents: Returning to the Scene of the Crime
An alert officer helped police capture a hit-and-run driver after he initially fled the scene of a serious bicycle crash.
The wreck occurred on the West Side, near the intersection of Callaghan Road and Culebra. Witnesses reported seeing an SUV collide with a bicycle. The bicycle rider was thrown from the bike and landed on his head; he was rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. The SUV driver turned out to be a 36-year-old man. After driving away, he returned to the scene and slowly drove around the area. An alert officer noticed the vehicle had a dangling side mirror, which led to a stop and arrest.
The SUV driver was promptly charged with DUI, and additional charges may be forthcoming.
Around half of hit-and-run drivers are eventually apprehended and prosecuted. In terms of the proportion held liable for the damages they cause, the number might be a little bit higher. In criminal court, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But in a negligence case, the plaintiff must only prove cause by a preponderance of the evidence. So, evidence that a driver was in an area at a certain time of day and was involved in a collision is enough to establish that, more likely than not, that person was the hit-and-run driver.
If the driver is identified, and especially if the evidence is fairly strong, juries sometimes award additional punitive damages. This money is designed to punish the defendant and deter future misconduct. Punitive damages are awarded on top of compensatory damages for economic and noneconomic losses.
If the driver is not identified, most victims still have legal options. If the victim had uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, the victim’s own insurance company is legally responsible for damages. The only real difference between an action against another defendant and an action against a person’s own insurance company is that, in the latter instance, a contested dispute will be resolved at arbitration instead of at trial.
For prompt assistance with a vehicle wreck claim, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in New Braunfels. You have a limited amount of time to act.