A hit and run in Utah is essentially when there is any type of an accident and someone leaves the scene of the accident. In Utah, you have a legal duty to stop and stay at the scene if there is ever any type of motor vehicle accident. Even if there is a small fender, that requires you to stay there, until the police arrive. Now, if there is an accident that is a small fender bender, you leave, it is not as severe, I mean it is a criminal offense to leave the scene of an accident. If there is any property damage, let us just say it is a fender-bender and you leave, you are looking at a Class B misdemeanor in Utah, so my advice is, do not leave, get it reported, better safe than sorry.
If there is any type of injury, then you are looking at a Class A misdemeanor and it could even go up to a third degree felony depending on the severity of those injuries. So, you definitely never want to leave any type of accident scene. You want to stay there and, like I said, you definitely want to call the police. It is good to just have a record of the events even if you do not think it is that serious. You ought to stay because chances are you may be caught on a security camera, someone might have caught you with their cellphone and you definitely do not want to be facing criminal charges relative to any accident.
Common Misconceptions Regarding Hit and Run Accidents
If you are a victim of a hit and run, the first thought is, “We were automatically going to be able to find the person who left the scene and we’re definitely going to be able to catch the bad guy, so to speak, and you’re going to recover”. That does not always happen. It happens most of the time. Unfortunately, we do not have the surveillance that you see in some of those blockbuster movies where there are cameras everywhere and they are able to track people down. There are places without cameras and there are places where nobody takes any pictures.
Unfortunately, sometimes when there is a hit and run, if you are a victim, we may not be able to find the perpetrator of that crime and get their insurance information to get things resolved, which is why if you are a victim of a hit and run, you want to have that cellphone out and start taking pictures and videos, so you can get some evidence to assist the police in tracking that person down. Now, if you have caused the hit and run, it is better to, like I said, just come forward and resolve it and get insurance involved and take care of business rather than staying awake at night wondering if you are eventually going to get arrested for fleeing the scene of an accident.
Steps To Take After Being Involved In a Hit and Run Accident
Obviously, you want to contact your insurance company, you want to be making sure that the police are involved and you definitely want to log as much evidence as possible. If you have been hit and somebody is starting to drive away, whip out your cellphone and take some video, get whatever evidence you can. You probably even want to be more thorough than you would be in the other accident simply because the evidence is on its way out, it is leaving the scene of the accident. That is one of the major differences. Another difference is if we cannot ever find the perpetrator, we cannot lodge a claim against their insurance company to get recovery, so again one more reason to have underinsured uninsured motorist coverage in case this type of thing happens.
Importance of Witnesses in Hit and Run Cases
Most of the time, if the police are called and if it is a severe accident, there will be people who will stop and who hopefully will assist and those people will become key witnesses. The police will interview them, get their information and will be listed in the police report as a witness. We will use this information if we ever go to trial or a lawsuit is ever to be filed. We will contact the witnesses and we even hire private investigators to go down and meet with them, interview them and get detailed logs and their testimony to know what happened. The police usually will always get two or three witnesses for a statement.
Does Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage Cover Hit And Run Accidents?
Yes, absolutely. If you have uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage. Review the policy with your insurance agent just to be one hundred percent sure but, yes, those types of things should cover hit and run accidents.
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