Hit and Run Motorcycle Accidents

January 2, 2024
By Michael Padway

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According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, deaths from hit and run accidents in the US are at an all-time high. There was a 62% increase in fatalities from hit and run accidents since 2009, the last year in which a downward trend was recorded. And nearly all victims are pedestrians or riders of two-wheel vehicles.

What is a Hit and Run Accident?

A hit and run is a traffic accident where one party involved flees the scene before providing sufficient information or aid to the other party, or fails to properly report the incident. A motorcycle accident is bad enough, but to suffer a hit and run adds insult to injury.

A hit and run accident is worse since:

  • It can increase the severity of injuries or damage due to the absence or delay of medical attention or aid to the victim.
  • It prolongs the physical suffering, social and economic burden of the victim.
  • It creates an additional load for law enforcement to catch the negligent party.

Hit and Run Accidents by the Numbers

  • Hit and run incidents account for 12% of all types of road accidents
  • A hit and run crash happens in the US every 43 seconds
  • Hit and run accidents account for 6% of all road injuries, and 5% of all road fatalities.
  • The US has a relatively higher incident rate of hit and run crashes compared to other developed countries.

Liability in a Hit and Run Motorcycle Accident

According to the legal definition of a hit and run, it is a crime to “be involved in a collision with another vehicle, property or human being, and knowingly fail to stop to give his/her name, license number and other information as required by statute to the injured party, a witness or law enforcement officers.”

If the accident results in only property damage and no other person is present (in the case of a parked motorcycle), it’s sufficient to leave contact information with the damaged property, but the negligent party must still report the incident to the police.

If the accident results in injuries or fatalities, the negligent party must fulfill additional duties, such as stopping at the scene (or as close as safely possible).

Depending on the state, a hit and run that causes property damage can result in a misdemeanor charge, while a hit and run that involves injuries or fatalities can constitute a felony. 

You can check your state’s specific hit and run statutes here.

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What to do if You Suffer a Hit and Run Accident

  1. Collect information
    • If you managed to see the vehicle’s license number, quickly type it on your phone, or commit it to memory until you can write it down.
    • In the absence of vehicle tags, take note of the type, brand, model and color. This can greatly help narrow the search down.
    • Document the accident. Take photos and videos of your injuries, bike damage, and location.
    • Gather eyewitnesses. Record their testimony and contact information for followup.
    • Check the area for CCTVs, such as traffic light cameras and commercial surveillance cameras.
  2. Collect medical records
    • If you suffered injuries, call EMS.
    • If the injuries are slight, it’s advisable to still undergo medical evaluation. Some injuries such as concussions or internal hemorrhaging may not be apparent from the outside and should be diagnosed by medical professionals.
    • Keep records of all your hospital bills and prescription or treatment expenses.
  3. File a police report
    • If the damage is severe, call law enforcement and wait near the scene.
    • If the damages are slight, proceed to the police station to file the report. This will be useful for filing the insurance claim, as well as bolster your lawsuit should you choose to file one.
    • Get the case number and contact information of the office assigned to your case, so you can follow up the investigation.
  4. Contact your insurance provider
    • Even if the negligent driver is not caught, you may still be able to claim compensation if you have uninsured motorist coverage.
    • Other compensation can be claimed from bodily injury and collision coverage.
  5. Consult legal help
    • A dedicated motorcycle accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal steps in a hit and run accident and recover compensation.
    • They can also file a lawsuit and help maximize the settlement once the other party is identified.

What to Do if You Cause an Accident

  1. Always stop and check on the other parties involved in the accident. Remember that flight is a sign of guilt, and probable cause for liability.
  2. Help secure the accident scene when safely possible to do so. In case of a pedestrian accident, use your bike to shield the other person from road traffic.
  3. Call for EMS when needed, and stay with the person until they arrive. Avoid moving the victim, especially in cases of severe injury or unconsciousness, unless absolutely necessary.
  4. For less serious accidents, exchange contact details and insurance information.
  5. Document the injury, damage and accident scene with photos and video records.
  6. Even if the damages are only slight, contact the police and your insurance company.
  7. Secure the services of a motorcycle accident attorney to help you navigate the legal process and mitigate potential liabilities.

A hit and run accident adds insult to injury and property damage. If the negligent party is found liable, they may be slapped with punitive damages in addition to victim compensation. They can also have their policy canceled by the insurance company, and have premiums added by their next insurance provider. 

Among all types of motorcycle accidents, a hit and run is one where you need legal help, whether you’re the victim or the driver at fault.

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Michael Padway

Michael Padway uses his expertise in personal injury and motorcycle accidents to represent a broad spectrum of clients dealing with life-changing and permanent injuries for the first time. His offices are located at 235 Montgomery St., Ste 668, San Francisco, CA 94104 and at 3140 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601. For more information, please call (800) 928-1511.

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