How Long Does A Hit And Run Investigation Take?

Picture of a person running away from the scene of an accident, representing the time it takes for a hit and run investigation to be completed.

Getting involved in a collision is bad enough, but it being a hit-and-run makes the situation a whole lot worse. A hit-and-run accident is when a driver at fault continues to leave the scene of the accident instead of stopping to provide aid and exchange contact details as well as insurance information with the other party involved. Dealing with such a shocking and devastating experience can get complicated and really time-consuming, which is why it is very important that you understand the investigation process as well as the steps you need to take for a hit-and-run incident.

Table of Contents

Initial Steps After a Hit and Run

Being a victim of a hit-and-run incident can be very traumatizing. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it. So, what are the immediate actions to take as a victim?
  • Report the accident to the police as soon as possible
  • Check for injuries
  • Check passenger’s safety
  • If anyone was injured, call 911
  • If there are witnesses, ask them to stay to talk to law enforcement and provide details of the incident
  • Report the accident to your insurance company
  • Take photos of the accident
When reporting the incident to law enforcement, try to remember and note every detail you can about the incident, especially the following:
  • Location and time of the accident
  • Cause of the accident
  • License plate number
  • Car model and color
  • Description of the other driver
  • Any other unique identifying marks on the car, such as bumper stickers
  • Direction to where the other vehicle was headed
If you were not the one involved in a hit and run, but have witnessed one, here are some of the things you can do as a witness:
  • Record necessary information related to the incident
  • Call law enforcement
  • Take documentation of the scene

Role of Law Enforcement Agencies and Specialized Units

Typically, hit-and-run investigations start when an officer arrives at the location of the accident to secure the accident scene as well as preserve the available evidence. There are three (3) different types of law enforcement agencies in the U.S., all of which aim to protect its citizens. These are Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement.

Local law enforcement

These agencies are in charge of providing patrol, investigating local crimes, and, most importantly, upholding the laws of their jurisdictions.

State law enforcement

Generally, state law enforcement agencies include the state police and the state highway patrol. Their role is to enforce traffic laws, respond to incidents and accidents that occur on state highways, investigate crimes happening within the state and offer assistance to local law enforcement agencies when necessary.

Federal law enforcement

Similar to local and state law enforcement, federal law enforcement serves in many different capacities. Their role consists of a wide range of activities, including providing protection for elected officials and federal buildings, investigating terrorist activity, and providing assistance to law enforcement on a larger or smaller scale. It is important to remember that all these agencies play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the United States and its citizens regardless of who they work for and their jurisdictions.

Investigative Process

When you report a hit-and-run accident to the police, they will begin a multi-step investigation in order to identify the liable driver. Listed below are some of the steps on how the police will investigate a hit-and-run case in order to find out who is responsible for the accident:

Gather and preserve all the available evidence at the scene

Once the police have arrived on the scene, the first thing they will do is gather all the available and necessary evidence associated with the accident. They will look for evidence and pay attention to different details such as the position of your vehicle, debris from the crash, trails of fluid and many more.

Take witness statements

Aside from taking statements from the actual party involved in the accident, if there are available witnesses who saw the accident as it occurred, the responding officers may also take their statements in order to obtain more information to help identify the driver.

Review video surveillance

Depending on the location, officers may also secure video surveillance from dash cams, traffic cameras, CCTV or security footage from nearby houses and businesses. With enough video evidence, officers may be able to identify the driver or the location they were headed to.

Create a traffic crash report

The investigating officers will also file a traffic crash report consisting of all of the information they have gathered from the accident. The crash report will include information such as the date and time of the crash, where the accident took place, the description of the vehicle and license plate number, names and addresses of the people involved, names and contact information of available witnesses as well as insurance information.

Timeframe for Investigation

There is no specific time to how long a hit-and-run investigation will take to conclude. For some cases, it could take days, weeks, and months, depending on circumstances and available evidence. Unfortunately, there are also instances where, no matter how hard the police officers may try, the driver at fault never gets caught, and the case remains unsolved.

Challenges in Hit-and-Run Investigations

While hit-and-run incidents are common, it is important to keep in mind that investigations of this nature are not a walk in the park. There are certain challenges law enforcement goes through as the investigation process takes place. These include but are not limited to:
  • Lack of witness or surveillance footage
  • Difficulty in identifying the at-fault party
  • Jurisdictional issues in cross-border hit-and-run cases
Because of the mentioned challenges above, the investigation process may take some time before the at-fault driver gets caught, or sometimes, due to the lack of evidence, the case may remain unsolved.

Role of personal injury lawyers in hit-and-run investigations

Aside from providing legal advice and serving as your legal representation, personal injury lawyers play a crucial role in an investigation after an accident. Hit-and-run lawyers have access to a wide range of investigative resources that can help in locating the at-fault driver. These resources include private investigators, police investigations and any other resources available to the local law enforcement handling the case. By utilizing these resources, a personal injury lawyer will be able to gather essential evidence and discover information relevant to the case. Moreover, they will be able to build a stronger case and help secure your compensation.

Legal avenues for obtaining compensation in hit-and-run cases

If you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may be able to recover compensation. If you are able to identify the at-fault driver and prove that they were responsible for the accident, they will be held liable for the damages. Another option is filing a claim under uninsured motorist coverage and seeking compensation from third parties. These approaches are usually beneficial in cases when the driver at fault is uninsured or under-insured. It may also be applicable to cases where the vehicle used in the accident was stolen. The potential damages covered are not limited to, but may include the following:
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Non-economic damages such as psychological or emotional injuries
Being well aware and understanding your rights and options are very important in ensuring that you get the compensation you deserve.

Call An Experienced Accident Attorney Now

A hit-and-run can be very stressful and upsetting. Aside from the mental and emotional distress the accident may have caused, you may also be dealing with property damage along with significant physical injuries. If you are a victim of a hit-and-run, it is important to keep in mind that the investigation process may take some time, depending on the available evidence. The at-fault driver may be located, or sometimes, they may get away with it due to several factors affecting the investigation. However, that is not to say that there is nothing you can do about it. By actively having proper cooperation with law enforcement and the right attorney to guide you, you will be able to navigate the complexities and intricacies of a hit-and-run case. With the help of a well-experienced accident lawyer, you will be able to seek justice and recover compensation for the different damages you obtained as a result of the accident. Text Kevin Accident Attorneys is a five-star rated personal injury law firm in Southern California focused on car accidents. Our team has helped hundreds of clients to get better settlements and maximum benefits. We’re ready to do the same for you. If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident and are unsure of what to do, contact us now at (888) 965-3827 for your inquiries or send us a message through our secure and confidential online form. Our fast and reliable team is available to assist you 24/7.
Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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