Hit-and-Runs an Ongoing New York Problem
Have you been the victim of a hit-and-run accident? Thousands of your fellow New Yorkers have had the same experience. In 2016, NYPD reported nearly 40,000 total hit-and-runs. While most only caused property damage, over 5,000 left someone with an injury. That year, twenty-two people were seriously hurt and thirty-eight New Yorkers were killed by drivers who fled the scene.
Hit-and-run drivers are a problem everywhere, but in the five boroughs and surrounding counties, this behavior has been more of an issue than in many parts of the country. You know things have gotten out of hand when a homeowner is the victim of a hit-and-run in his own driveway. (That man is expected to recover, and there’s an active effort to locate the driver who caused the crash, helped by debris left at the scene and the offer of a reward.)
Flee for Many Reasons, But Shouldn’t Be Chased
Drivers leave the scene of an accident for numerous reasons. Some are unlicensed or driving on a suspended license and know that they’ll face stiffer punishment if caught. Some are drunk or under the influence of legal or illegal drugs and don’t want to get caught in that condition for similar reasons. Some just panic, while others are afraid of the penalties.
But when they flee, you shouldn’t chase them. You should instead collect as much information as you can about the other driver and vehicle and report the crash to police. Stay at the scene, especially if anyone was hurt. Any information that you collect—and that the police report—can be crucial later.
Penalties Don’t Fit the Crime
The punishments given out to hit-and-run drivers seem mild to many. In the least severe case—simple property damage—a driver can get off with only a small fine (at most $250) and the incident might not even be reported as a crime.
Even if someone is killed in a hit-and-run, the maximum punishment is a seven-year prison term and a $5,000 fine. New York City has enacted tougher laws which sharply raise fines, setting the maximum to $20,000.
Improving the Odds
Too many hit-and-run drivers get away with their crime. But steps are being taken to make that less likely. The New York City Council recently approved a new law establishing an alert system for hit-and-run crashes, similar to the Amber alert system used to quickly send out requests for help locating abducted children.
It’s set to be in place by sometime this March and would give police the ability to issue alerts to cell phones in the area, providing a description of vehicles that are wanted in connection with hit-and-run crashes. Some hoped-for targets of the system are body shops and repair facilities, which sometimes fix damage with no awareness that the vehicle might be part of a potential accident investigation.
New York City Hit-And-Run Lawyer
When you or someone close to you has been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you’ll need help getting justice. Regardless of whether the driver who caused the crash faces criminal charges, it’s up to you to pursue financial damages in civil court.
The experienced team at Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP has helped many clients reach successful settlements in their motor vehicle accident cases, whether they involved a truck, car, or other vehicle, including hit-and-run situations. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all clients, so you have nothing to lose. Give us a call today at 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462) or contact us online through the form below to schedule an appointment.