Few situations in your life might be more disrupting and aggravating than a car accident. Whatever plans you might’ve had before are canceled and now you’re faced with potential injuries and the hassle of navigating a car accident claim.
What can make this predicament even worse is if the other driver chooses to flee the scene and turn the accident into a hit-and-run. Without both parties of an accident present, you’ll experience greater difficulty receiving fair compensation for damages to your car and any injuries you may have sustained.
Because there are many essential legal actions to navigate post-hit-and-run incident, you must adequately understand the circumstances of these accidents and why they are legally complex. This begins with why hit-and-run drivers flee the scene, which we’ll go into detail about now.
Lack of Insurance
One of the most common reasons for leaving an accident scene is the lack of car insurance.
In every state not named New Hampshire or Virginia, car insurance is required if you are on the road. Because it is mandatory, you should be able to expect that all the other drivers on the road are properly insured.
Unfortunately, roughly one in eight drivers do not carry auto insurance across the country. Some states are particularly bad with this, as some feature uninsured driver rates of 20% or more.
With this in mind, there is a shockingly high possibility of encountering an uninsured driver during an accident. The problem here is that these drivers know they should have insurance and don’t want to face the financial penalties of being caught without it and the costs of having caused an accident.
When an uninsured driver causes an accident, they are likely to panic. It is reasonable to assume that part of the initial reason they do not have insurance is that they lack the financial means to pay, so the much higher costs of an accident are entirely unreasonable for them to cover.
In turn, it is likely for a driver without insurance to flee in hopes they do not have to find a way to pay for the accident. This is also why uninsured motorist coverage exists and should be purchased to keep yourself adequately protected.
Restricted Driving Privileges
Another highly common reason for hit-and-run accidents is restricted driving privileges.
If the driver that causes a hit-and-run accident is driving on a suspended or invalid license, then they are aware that getting caught will result in serious consequences and further losses of driving ability.
Additionally, anyone driving a stolen vehicle is also sure to flee an accident scene. Any details that link back to the car may not connect to the driver in question when an accident happened. As a result, it can be incredibly difficult to ascertain who is responsible for your accident if they are not detained at the scene and ditch the car later.
If another driver already knows they shouldn’t be on the road, then they are much more likely to escape an accident and pretend like they were never there.
Drug use, particularly alcohol, is an additional cause for drivers to flee accident scenes.
It is illegal to operate a car in any capacity if you are under the influence of any drug. Alcohol tends to cause the most issues here due to its legality and accessibility, but also due to how significantly it impairs your mental and physical capabilities.
If you are drunk or high, you cannot think and function as effectively as you would with a clear head. It will take longer to react and the odds of making a poor decision are extremely high.
Another level of complication here is that fleeing while intoxicated can help prevent a driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge if the offending driver is not apprehended until they have sobered up.
With this in mind, a driver that is intoxicated when they hit you is unquestionably breaking the law and unable to think rationally. In turn, this may make fleeing the scene seem like a good idea in their inebriated state to minimize their potential punishment.
Fear of Serious Legal Consequences
Hit-and-run drivers also leave accidents in fear of more serious legal consequences.
A hit-and-run accident is already a felony offense, meaning that a driver must have more significant reasons to escape law enforcement. At this point, they will do anything to escape capture, and stopping for an accident is out of the question.
Situations where this may occur involve drivers with outstanding warrants, possessing illegal goods or substances, lacking documentation for legal citizenship, and accidents that involve work vehicles.
The more another driver has to lose when confronted with an accident, the more likely they are to run in hopes of evading any repercussions.
Irrational Decision Making
A final point to consider is that another driver may flee the scene for no apparent reason. Instead, they may simply panic and make an irrational decision that further compounds their mistake and resulting consequences.
Getting into an accident is incredibly scary and it can be hard to accept that you made a mistake that caused an accident. Humans are designed for fight or flight when something goes wrong, so running from an accident isn’t a difficult response to understand.
That said, leaving an accident is against the law, and drivers on the road must be ready to be held accountable for their decisions and the accidents they cause.
Hit-and-run accidents are incredibly challenging because you cannot easily go after the party responsible for your losses. Instead, you must rely on the insurance coverage you have and it’s likely you won’t ever fully be made whole.
In particular, hit-and-run drivers tend to leave accident scenes for a few outstanding reasons. This includes a lack of insurance, restricted driving privileges, drug use, fear of legal consequences, and simply irrational decision-making.
There’s never a good reason for you or another driver to leave the scene of an accident. It’s not your fault when someone else flees, but you’re still left with the aftermath of their bad choices. Ensure that you stay at any accident scene you’re involved in to establish your innocence and gather relevant documentation to mitigate your resulting losses.