DeKalb County Hit-and-Run Car Accident Attorneys

Every single day, thousands of motor vehicle accidents occur in DeKalb County and throughout Illinois for various reasons. When these accidents happen, the drivers involved are legally required to stop, assess the damage, exchange insurance and contact information, and notify the police of the incident if it results in significant property damage, injury, or death. Unfortunately, not all drivers uphold this responsibility and commit hit-and-run violations. Whether they do this to avoid responsibility for their actions or out of fear of the repercussions of causing the accident, they face criminal penalties for failing to report an accident they’ve caused.

DeKalb County Hit and Run Car Accident Attorneys

Experienced Legal Representation for Hit-and-Run Accident Claims in Dekalb County

Failure to notify the police of an accident as required by law or fleeing the scene of an accident can constitute a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the crash. For an injured driver, a hit-and-run accident can add a tremendous level of frustration on top of an already stressful and damaging experience. If you find yourself in this situation, and you and/or a family member have suffered injuries due to the actions of another driver who did not stop to take responsibility for causing the crash, a DeKalb County hit-and-run accident attorney is an essential asset if you want to recover your losses as fully as possible.

Our Team Can Help You Identify the Vehicle Driver at Fault for Your Accident

Franks Gerkin Ponitz Greeley has years of professional experience handling a wide variety of personal injury claims in DeKalb County, and we know the stress and frustration your recent hit-and-run accident has likely caused. You have the right to seek accountability for the accident and compensation for your damages, but you must locate and identify the at-fault driver before you can secure the compensation you legally deserve. We can not only assist you with identifying the driver who injured you but also guide you through the difficult legal proceedings your case is likely to entail.

How to Locate a Hit-and-Run Driver in DeKalb County

The first challenge you face after a hit-and-run accident is proving who caused the crash. If you were hit while driving and the at-fault driver fled the scene, it’s important to try to record as much information about the driver and their vehicle as you can. Use your phone to record your description of their vehicle, if possible, including their license plate number or as much of their license plate number as you can remember. Contact 911 and wait for first responders to arrive, and do not move if you suffered severe injuries or you risk making them worse.

Once the police arrive to investigate the scene, they will take your statement and interview anyone else involved in the crash. They will also likely interview bystanders who saw the accident happen. These witness statements can prove to be invaluable when it comes to locating and identifying the at-fault driver. Police will take whatever descriptions of the at-fault driver and their vehicle that are available and use them to notify local officers, hopefully locating the hit-and-run driver relatively quickly.

Other forms of evidence could also come into play in your hit-and-run accident claim, such as traffic camera recordings and private security camera footage from nearby homes and/or businesses. A DeKalb County hit-and-run accident attorney is the optimal resource to consult when you need help securing these forms of evidence. Once the police have located the at-fault driver, they will likely be arrested and face criminal prosecution from the state while you proceed with your civil claim for damages.

Criminal Penalties for a Hit-and-Run Car Accident

Hitting someone or something and running is a criminal offense that can qualify as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the damage done by the defendant. If the hit-and-run driver hit an unattended vehicle and/or only caused property damage before fleeing the scene of the accident, they will likely be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500, plus liability for the victim’s civil damages.

If the hit-and-run driver caused bodily injury, the offense escalates to a Class 4 felony, carrying a potential penalty of one to three years in prison, fines up to $25,000, and revocation of their driver’s license. If they did not report the accident, which is often the case with hit-and-run drivers, failure to report escalates the incident to a Class 2 felony. The penalties for this increase to three to seven years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines, and revocation of driver’s license.

When a hit-and-run driver causes a fatal injury, the offense increases to a Class 4 felony, and failure to report the accident escalates this further to a Class 1 felony. Penalties at this level include four to 15 years in prison, revocation of driver’s license, and a maximum fine of $25,000. Additionally, the defendant will likely face a wrongful death claim from the victim’s family.

Filing Your Auto Insurance Claim for a Hit-and-Run Accident in DeKalb County

Once your DeKalb County hit-and-run accident attorney has helped you locate and identify the at-fault driver, the state will open their criminal case against them while you can proceed with your recovery efforts. All drivers in the state are required to have auto insurance, and filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy is the first step in recovering your losses.

At a minimum, a personal auto insurance policy in the state must include three types of coverage:

  1. $25,000 or more in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person injured in an accident caused by the policyholder.
  2. $50,000 or more for bodily injuries to multiple persons injured in a single accident caused by the policyholder.
  3. $20,000 or more in property damage liability coverage to compensate vehicle repair costs and other damaged or destroyed property.

While not required, it is important for drivers to consider purchasing additional coverage for accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers. One of the most commonly cited reasons for drivers to commit hit-and-run offenses is lack of insurance coverage, and having uninsured motorist coverage on your policy allows you to file a claim against your own coverage if an uninsured driver hits you. This will not cause your premiums to increase as long as you did not contribute to causing the accident.

Your DeKalb County hit-and-run accident attorney can assist you in filing your insurance claim against the at-fault driver, compiling a demand letter to their insurance carrier seeking compensation for the losses you suffered. Your attorney can help to ensure that the insurance carrier processes the claim efficiently and in good faith. Once they provide their settlement offer, your attorney can ensure it is acceptable under the terms of the at-fault driver’s policy.

If you encounter any unfair treatment from the insurance company, such as unreasonable delays or a lowball settlement offer, your attorney can address these problems on your behalf. If the insurance carrier handles your claim in bad faith in any way, it can form grounds for additional legal action that could further enhance your compensation for the accident in question.

Building a Personal Injury Claim for a Hit-and-Run Accident

Once you have recovered as much compensation as possible from an at-fault driver’s auto insurance, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against them to recover any remaining damages their insurance won’t cover. A minimum-coverage auto insurance policy may compensate you for vehicle repair costs, but if you suffer serious injuries, insurance may only cover a portion of your total medical expenses.

Any car accident has the potential to cause life-changing injuries such as severely broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and more. It’s possible for symptoms to persist for months or years and for a victim to require multiple rounds of extensive medical care to fully recover. When another party is responsible for inflicting such injuries on you or a loved one, you need an attorney who can help hold them accountable.

A comprehensive personal injury suit against a hit-and-run driver can yield compensation for any and all the damages that their insurance can’t cover. Additionally, the illegal nature of their actions may influence your final case award as well. A DeKalb County hit-and-run accident attorney is the ideal asset to have on your side when it comes to constructing your personal injury claim.

While you have the right to file your personal injury case, the state will open a criminal case against the defendant for hit and run and associated charges. This criminal case may unfold alongside your civil court proceedings, and your attorney can advise you as to how the two cases may overlap and interact.

When it comes to resolving a personal injury case, most civil claims for damages end in settlement. The private settlement negotiation process enables the parties involved in a case to reach mutually acceptable terms while avoiding the stress, time, and expense that litigation entails. Your attorney can help determine if settlement is a viable option for resolving your case and prepare you for trial if not.

Damages Available in a DeKalb County Hit-and-Run Accident Claim

Under the state’s personal injury laws, the plaintiff in a personal injury case has the right to claim both economic and non-economic damages that resulted from a motor vehicle accident. Your DeKalb County hit-and-run accident attorney can assist you in calculating the full breadth of economic losses you suffered from the accident, which are likely to include the following:

  • Vehicle repair or replacement costs. The at-fault driver may or may not have auto insurance, but even if they do, their property damage liability coverage may not fully compensate for the loss of your vehicle. Outstanding repair costs and the cost of any other property lost in the accident can be cited as economic damages in your personal injury claim.
  • Medical expenses. If you suffered any physical injuries due to a defendant’s actions, they are liable for any and all of the medical expenses you incur from the accident in question. This would include both immediate and long-term medical treatment costs if you suffered serious injuries that demand ongoing restorative care.
  • Lost income. When you cannot work because of a personal injury, the defendant who caused the injury is responsible for the income you are unable to earn during your recovery period. This includes lost future earnings as well if your injuries have permanently diminished your earning capacity.

Once you have accurately calculated claimable immediate and long-term damages, you may be surprised to see that your claim is worth more than you expected. However, your recovery can also include pain and suffering compensation.

Under Illinois’ personal injury statutes, there are no limits on pain and suffering compensation in most personal injury cases. The plaintiff has the right to seek whatever amount they believe to be fair to reflect the severity of the physical pain and emotional distress they suffered due to a defendant’s actions. If this sounds difficult to assess in monetary terms, your attorney can determine a fair figure, either by seeking compensation for each day you spend recovering or by multiplying your economic losses by a factor that reflects the severity of your experience.

The attorneys at Franks Gerkin Ponitz Greeley strive to help each of our clients maximize their recovery. We know you are likely to have many pressing questions concerning the potential value of your successful claim, and we will do everything we can to help you approach your case with confidence and peace of mind. Ultimately, every accident case is unique, and every plaintiff will face different challenges as they seek compensation for the losses they’ve suffered.

Other Variables That Influence Your Recovery From a Hit-and-Run Accident

In addition to the economic and non-economic damages you obtain through a successful civil claim, you may also receive additional compensation at the discretion of the judge handling your case. Civil court judges sometimes award punitive damages when the plaintiff has been harmed by illegal or egregiously negligent behavior. The amount paid typically depends on the financial status of the defendant; wealthier defendants should expect to pay more in punitive damages. When a defendant faces criminal prosecution for hit and run, the judge handling their sentencing could also include restitution to their victims with their other penalties.

One issue that might diminish a plaintiff’s recovery in a civil suit is comparative negligence. Under state law, a plaintiff who is partially at fault for their damages will lose a percentage of their case award to account for this. For example, if you are found to be 40% at fault for your accident, you lose 40% of your case award. Under the state’s modified comparative negligence rule, a plaintiff loses the ability to claim compensation from a defendant if their fault exceeds 50%.

How Your Accident Attorney Can Help You Recover From a Hit and Run

Ultimately, a hit-and-run accident claim can be one of the most challenging motor vehicle accident cases a person can face. Not only do they face the issue of locating and identifying the at-fault driver at the outset of their case, but the illegal nature of the defendant’s behavior could influence their recovery in various ways. Your attorney can assist you in making clearer sense of the legal proceedings ahead of you and guiding you through your recovery efforts as seamlessly as possible.

When you choose Franks Gerkin Ponitz Greeley as your legal team, you are investing in years of professional legal experience, and you will have a fierce advocate ready to provide the support and advice you need throughout your recovery efforts. We have confronted all of the major auto insurance carriers on behalf of our clients and know the tactics they often use to try to avoid paying out on claims. We know how to build comprehensive personal injury claims that aim for maximum client recovery.

It’s possible that you may be called to testify against the at-fault driver in criminal court, and we can prepare you for any such courtroom appearances. We can also assist you in streamlining the conclusion of your personal injury case as much as possible. Our goal in every civil suit we accept is to maximize our client’s recovery as much as possible, and we are ready to put our experience, skill, and resources to work for you in your case.

Hit-and-Run Car Accident Attorney FAQs

Q: Is It Necessary to Hire a DeKalb County Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney?

A: No, there is no law that requires you to hire legal representation for any motor vehicle accident case. You have the right to try to secure compensation on your own but do not make the mistake of thinking this will save you money on legal fees. Investing in the right attorney can significantly improve the quality of your final case award, and you will be better prepared to address any unforeseen issues that might arise with your claim. You are more likely to reach a positive outcome and maximize your recovery with an experienced attorney’s assistance.

Q: How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Hit-and-Run Accident Claim?

A: The time your case could require to complete depends on whether the at-fault driver can be located in a timely fashion, whether they have auto insurance, and the scope of your damages. Your DeKalb County hit-and-run accident attorney can help determine your case’s most likely timetable and discern any opportunities you may have to streamline your case proceedings. You must notify the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier of your intent to file an auto insurance claim within a day or two of your accident, but state law provides a two-year statute of limitations on filing a personal injury case.

Q: How Much Compensation Will I Receive for a Hit-and-Run Accident?

A: Most car accident victims will secure full repayment of their economic losses and a measure of financial compensation to reflect their pain and suffering. The total value of these damages hinges on the severity of the accident. However, other damages could come into play in a hit-and-run accident case because the defendant caused the harm in question through illegal misconduct. A criminal court judge could order them to pay restitution in addition to the civil damages they owe, and a civil court judge could award you punitive damages along with your other damages.

Q: Will the At-Fault Driver Go to Jail for Causing a Hit-and-Run Accident?

A: Hit and run is a criminal offense, punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony. It is very likely that if a hit-and-run driver injured you or caused a fatal injury to your loved one, they will spend time behind bars for their action. Your attorney can advise you as to how the illegal nature of the defendant’s behavior could influence your recovery efforts and what to expect in terms of how this may influence your recovery.

Q: How Much Will It Cost to Hire Legal Representation for a Hit-and-Run Accident Claim?

A: When you choose Franks Gerkin Ponitz Greeley as your legal representative in a hit-and-run accident claim or any other personal injury claim in DeKalb County, you only pay a legal fee to our firm if you win your case. Additionally, this contingency fee is a percentage of the total amount recovered for your damages, so there is no risk of your case being too expensive to pursue. Our goal in every case is maximum client recovery as efficiently as possible.

Any motor vehicle accident can be a life-changing experience, and hit-and-run accidents are especially frustrating for injured victims. When you have Franks Gerkin Ponitz Greeley representing you, you have readily available access to responsive and compassionate legal counsel through all the stages of your legal proceedings. We know how to navigate you to the optimal outcome in your recovery efforts. If you are ready to learn how a seasoned DeKalb County hit-and-run accident attorney can assist with your recovery efforts, contact us today and schedule a consultation.

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