It’s a disturbing trend that has recently become a growing safety concern: hit-and-run crashes. Despite Illinois law, many drivers in our state are willing to risk jail time and potential fines in order to avoid the consequences of causing a crash.
Chicago had 46 hit-and-run crashes in 2018 that resulted in either fatalities or life-long, debilitating injuries. Twenty of those hit-and-runs were fatal, while 26 caused serious injuries. Within the last five months alone, hit-and-runs increased by six percent.
On a national scale, fatal hit-and-runs reached an all-time high in 2016, with a total of 2,049 deaths, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). The increase of vehicles on the road may be the culprit behind the rise in hit-and-runs, as well as all other types of crashes. This trend may be driven by the low cost of fuel and a strong economy.
According to Kelly Nantel, of the National Safety Council, the overall increase in traffic fatalities is caused by distracted driving, speeding, and alcohol impairment. Between 2015-2017, hit-and-runs have accounted for more than five percent of all traffic fatalities across the United States. In most European countries, however, hit-and-runs account for less than three percent.
Identifying responsible parties
AAA believes the high rate of hit-and-runs may be attributed to an increase in pedestrians and bicyclists in recent years. Roughly two-thirds of hit-and-runs involve a motor vehicle striking a pedestrian or bicyclist. In addition, hit-and-runs are more likely to involve pedestrians or bicyclists because the driver can most likely leave the crash scene. In a crash involving two motor vehicles, the driver may sustain an injury or serious vehicular damage, making it more difficult to evade the consequences.
Drivers who flee the scene of a crash are most likely to do so because:
- They are impaired by drugs or alcohol
- They are involved in illegal activity and don’t want to get caught
- They are fleeing from police
- They caused a serious injury or death don’t want to deal with the consequences
Recovering damages after a hit-and-run
In some cases, hit-and-run drivers are caught. Most recently, two people were arrested in Chicago after a hit-and-run accident with a stolen vehicle. While Evergreen Park police were conducting a traffic stop, the vehicle sped by. Evergreen Park police followed the vehicle and attempted to pull it over, before the driver struck another vehicle. Both parties tried to run away.
Unfortunately, not all hit-and-run victims are as fortunate. Some at-fault drivers escape without getting caught and without being identified by witnesses or camera footage. Luckily for Illinois drivers, uninsured motorist coverage – which is required statewide – covers your medical expenses in the event of a hit-and-run.
If you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist injured in a hit-and-run, your options may be limited. In most cases, you would be able to recover damages from the driver’s insurance company. If the driver can’t be identified, the consequences can be financially devastating. That’s why it’s critical that you speak to an experienced Chicago attorney who can investigate your crash. Don’t hesitate. Contact Coplan + Crane today.