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Hit-and-run accidents raise moral, legal questions

Having a loved one or close friend killed or injured in a traffic accident is a heart-rending experience under any circumstances, but when the driver of the offending vehicle leaves the scene, the tragedy can be compounded.

Los Angeles experiences approximately 20,000 hit-and-run auto accidents each year. Most of these accidents involve only light damage to one or both cars, but last year, 27 people were killed and 144 were severely injured in hit-and-run accidents. Over a period of several years, only one in ten of the hit-and-run drivers were arrested. The Los Angeles area municipal police forces do not have the manpower to thoroughly investigate hit-and-run cases.

The Los Angeles City Council offers rewards for clues to the identity of hit-and-run drivers, and the council has recently agreed to begin using electronic alerts such as those used for abducted children in an effort to apprehend more hit-and-run drivers. But the problem remains: what causes drivers to flee the scene of an accident that they may have caused? Most likely, it's the knowledge that very few hit-and-run drivers are brought to justice. As one person who lost a friend to a hit-and-run driver put it, "If you put your morals aside, it's probably the smart thing to do."

If you or a friend or a loved one is injured by a hit-and-run driver, another possibility is to consult an attorney who is experienced in investigating automobile accidents to find out if a private accident investigation could find the driver. Lawyers who specialize in representing auto accident victims have teams of investigative specialists that can be deployed in an effort to find a driver who has left the accident scene. Such hard work may lead to a successful lawsuit for damages against the fleeing driver.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "For families of hit-and-run victims, haunting questions remain," Sandy Banks, March 9, 2015

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