How Long Does a Hit-and-Run Investigation Take?
In 2020, 2,564 people lost their lives in a traffic accident involving a hit-and-run driver, up from 2,037 the year before. 24% of all pedestrian deaths and 22% of all cyclist fatalities were in hit-and-run accidents with a motorist. Many more motorists, pedestrians and cyclists sustained injuries in an accident involving a driver who fled the scene.
Time is of the essence if you have a traffic accident and the driver leaves the scene. The sooner police can begin investigating the crash and the more evidence they have, the faster they may be able to resolve the investigation. When the driver who caused the accident isn’t found, you are left to deal with the financial consequences yourself. The length of an investigation depends in part on your actions immediately following the incident.
How Long an Investigation Takes After a Hit-and-Run
The length of an investigation depends on how much information the police have to go on and how soon after the incident they begin their search. Sometimes, they discover the driver and vehicle within hours. Other times, it can take weeks or longer to finish a hit-and-run investigation.
The longer a case takes, the less likely it is to come to a positive conclusion. The truth is that many of these accidents go unsolved, the investigation closing without any resolution for the victim.
What To Do After a Hit-and-Run
Unfortunately, a hit-and-run often happens so quickly that you hardly have time to register the event before the driver disappears from sight. Sometimes, though, the driver stops at least briefly and may even talk to you but fail to provide you with enough information to bring a claim against the individual before taking off. However, the steps you take can aid the police in finding out who is responsible for the accident.
Immediately after the accident, gather as much information about the vehicle and the driver as you can. Take note of the car’s make and model, snapping a photo even if it is from a distance. You’d be surprised at how much information it can provide to aid the police in an investigation. If you can only take a mental note, try to write it down or create a note on your phone. If the vehicle stops, take a photo of the license plate and car and include the driver in the image if possible.
Call 911 right away. It doesn’t matter if you think the accident didn’t do much damage to your vehicle or you. You may not realize the full extent of the damages until later. Seeking medical attention immediately following the accident is also critical. You may sustain injuries that don’t display symptoms for hours, days or weeks. If the investigation uncovers the driver’s identity, you want to be able to hold the individual accountable. Furthermore, fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in Michigan.
What Michigan Laws Say About Hit-and-Runs
Michigan law requires motorists to stop when they know or have reason to believe they were involved in an accident, remaining on the scene until they provide the following information:
- Name and address
- Vehicle registration number
- Driver’s license number
Drivers must provide this information to other drivers, other individuals involved in the accident or a police officer. If someone is injured, motorists must help them secure medical assistance. When a driver fails to stop or provide all necessary information, there are consequences, even if property damage is the only outcome.
Consequences for Hit-and-Runs Involving Property Damage
A hit-and-run accident resulting in property damage alone is a misdemeanor crime in Michigan when a driver is occupying or attending the vehicle. The penalties for the crime include up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $100.
Consequences for Hit-and-Runs Involving Injury or Death
A driver who leaves the scene of an accident that results in injury or death may be charged with a felony. A hit-and-run with severe injuries can lead to imprisonment of up to five years, $5,000 in fines or both. If the accident leads to a fatality, the penalty is up to 15 years imprisonment, up to $10,000 in fines or both.
How To Pay for Damages After a Hit-and-Run
If the investigations do not lead to the identity of the driver who struck you, you will need to cover the damages. You may be able to rely on your auto insurance, but if you have serious injuries, your coverage may not be enough. If the hit-and-run investigations are fruitful, you can file a legal claim against the other driver.
Michigan Insurance Options
Michigan is a no-fault insurance state. As a driver, you must carry personal injury protection coverage to satisfy the state’s no-fault laws. This insurance provides protection and pays benefits no matter who caused the accident. It is helpful for hit-and-runs when the driver is not identified or if the damages are minor. Optional collision coverage can also help pay for damage to your vehicle.
Personal Injury Protection
Your PIP insurance pays for your medical expenses for all treatment related to the accident, with no maximum limit. It also covers a percentage of your wages for up to three years, but there are policy limits that you may hit before the three years are up. Your insurance also covers up to $20 per day in replacement services to pay for household help to take care of duties you can’t perform.
PIP coverage does not pay for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering. Additionally, it won’t cover the full extent of your lost wages. Your insurance also won’t cover you if you sustain permanent injuries or debilitating conditions that prevent you from earning your full potential.
Collision insurance pays for damage to your vehicle, regardless of fault. This optional coverage comes in three forms: broad, standard and limited. Each of these may pay for vehicle repairs after a hit-and-run, but you may need to pay a deductible.
Michigan Personal Injury Claims
If the hit-and-run investigation returns the identity of the driver who fled the scene, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim to recover damages. Michigan law only allows victims of car accidents or their families to file a lawsuit if they sustain serious or fatal injuries or if the at-fault driver was from out of state. However, this law only applies if the at-fault driver has insurance.
You can pursue compensation through the courts when the accident qualifies for a legal claim. A personal injury lawsuit provides an avenue for recovering economic and noneconomic damages. You may also be able to get exemplary damages, an additional award reserved for cases in which the defendant’s actions demonstrate a willful disregard for the victim’s right.
Who To Contact for Help After a Hit-and-Run Accident
Mike Morse Law Firm is the largest personal injury firm in Michigan. We have the experience and knowledge of a large firm, with the compassion, attention and care you would expect from a much smaller organization. Our car accident lawyers understand the challenges you face after a hit-and-run. Whether you need help dealing with insurance companies or filing a lawsuit, we’re with you every step of the way. We require no upfront fees and won’t collect a payment until we win compensation for you. Get in touch today for a free case review.