Despite laws in every state which make it illegal to leave the scene of a car accident involving injury to person or property, drivers often attempt to flee the scenes of accidents they have caused. The most common flight from an accident scene involves parking lot collisions, in which a driver strikes somebody else's parked car. While that is certainly annoying, the more serious hit-and-run incidents involve drivers fleeing the scene of personal injury accidents, typically without summoning the help required by injured persons at the scene.
The goal of a hit-and-run driver is to escape the accident scene without being identified. When that occurs, it can be very difficult to later identify the driver or the car involved in the collision.
Sometimes a witness will record the at-fault driver's license plate number, or will pursue the at-fault driver until the driver either stops or reaches a destination to which the police may be summoned. Sometimes, due to the nature and extent of vehicle damage, hit-and-run driver may be identified when they try to have their vehicles repaired. In very serious cases, the police may use forensic examination techniques to search for blood, hair or tissue on cars matching the description of a hit-and-run vehicle.
The problem of recovering damages from a hit-and-run driver are twofold:
If the driver is not identified, it is not possible to recover damages from that person.
A large number of hit-and-run drivers flee the scene because they are uninsured, and even if later identified they may not have any insurance coverage or assets against which an award of damages could be recovered.
Many hit-and-run drivers are driving while intoxicated, and flee to avoid being arrested.
People injured in a hit-and-run collision often end up recovering for their injuries through appropriate provisions of their own auto insurance policies. When purchasing insurance you should verify that you have uninsured motorist coverage, so that you may receive compensation if you are injured by a driver who is uninsured or where a hit-and-run driver cannot be identified. You should also ask about underinsured motorist coverage, a type of coverage that allows for potential compensation through your own insurance policy if a driver who causes an accident has insufficient insurance to adequately compensate people who are injured in the accident.