Unfinished Business: Hit-and-Run Accidents

According to the American Institute of Stress, the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory places injury as number six on a list of 43 most stressful life events. This ranking is especially true when an injured individual is left at the scene of an accident without the perpetrator present to resolve the situation.

An accident is a disorienting occurrence for all parties involved. While there are many motives placed upon hit-and-run drivers, such as illegal driving and inebriation, it is important to remember that the driver who flees the scene of an accident may be experiencing fear and distress similar to the victim who they are leaving behind.

Despite the motives that a hit-and-run driver may have, leaving the scene of an accident before matters are resolved is a violation of the law and it is taken very seriously. According to Utah Code §41-6-401, an individual involved in a collision must provide his or her name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance information. Failure to do so is considered a class B misdemeanor which could result in up to 6 months in jail or $1,000 in fines.

Though the consequence for leaving a motor collision scene is high, hit-and-run accidents occur with disturbing frequency. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in one out of every five auto-pedestrian deaths, the motorist leaves the scene before the accident is reported. Furthermore, many non-lethal hit-and-run accidents occur without the incident ever being reported, because of the wide-spread belief that nothing can be done in this case.

What Should I Do if it Happens to Me?

It is difficult to know what to do since each situation is so unique and hit-and-run occurrences can take many different shapes and forms. Though it may be hard knowing where to begin, dmv.org offers advice on how to proceed:

Record information – Though you may not have seen or remembered the license plate number, details such as color, make, and model are useful. Additional information, such as the location and time of the incident and the events leading up to the collision will be useful when it comes time to file a claim.

Check for witnesses – If you can, exchange contact information with bystanders who saw the event. Even if they cannot provide additional facts, the simple act of witnessing the event may be a great help to your claim in the future.

Do not pursue the driver – If your first impulse is to track down the driver, just sit tight. After a motor collision, you will most likely be in no mental or physical state to engage in a heated chase through the streets. Doing so will only risk yet another accident.

Call the police – Though you may have little information to offer, having an official report of the occurrence can cut back on the processing time of an auto claim.

File an insurance claim – If you have collected enough information to identify the hit-and-run driver, then you can settle your account with the individual or with his or her insurance provider. Depending on the situation, the use of an attorney may be helpful or necessary to handling your case. If you are unable to identify the hit-and-run driver and have uninsured or under-insured motorist insurance, then you can file a claim with your own insurance. If you have neither of the above, then there is little to be done.


If you are involved in an accident, please respect state law as well as other individuals involved in the collision and pull over. If you happen to witness a hit-and-run accident, stop to provide any information you can; you maybe able to make the call that an injured victim cannot or save their case for an insurance claim. Above all, be cautious and avoid aggressive driving which may lead to a motor accident.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor accident due to other’s negligence or recklessness, please take advantage of Christensen & Hymas’ resources and schedule a free consultation from our toll free number, (801) 506-0800 or visit our website at utahpersonalinjurylawfirm.com. Our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers can help you determine how to be properly compensated in any personal injury situation.

See dmv.org, nhtsa.gov, stress.org, and le.utah.gov for further reading and information on hit-and-run accidents.

Photo courtesy of Alexas_Fotos

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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