A hit-and-run differs from standard accident cases in a variety of ways, most notably that it will result in criminal charges when the offender is found. This means that in addition to the major fines that a person could face in civil litigation, he or she could also face probation, license revocation and prison time for their offense.
There is an assumption of duty for all uninjured drivers in accidents to stay at the scene and alert emergency services at a minimum. Some locations require drivers to take additional steps, including helping victims to get medical attention, calling the police and exchanging contact information. When a person chooses to flee the scene of an accident they abandon these duties, which is a serious criminal offense. Not only do they leave a person who has potentially suffered serious injuries alone to fend for themselves, but their absence also prevents that person from getting the compensation needed to pay for the medical care they’ll likely need as a result of the accident.
Because of the negligence and lack of morality shown by offenders in hit-and-run accidents, courts are more likely to award punitive damages to the victims in civil litigation. These damages are typically reserved for especially bad or egregious conduct to make a statement that such behavior will not be tolerated. Victims of hit-and-run accidents can seek punitive damages in addition to standard compensatory damages and be much more likely to find success than they would in regular accident cases. Even if the act of hitting another person or driver was unintentional, the act of leaving the scene of the accident is intentional, which is why it is more likely to be punished heavily.
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