Being the victim of a hit-and-run motorcycle accident can be horrifying. You may have significant injuries, and your bike may be damaged. On top of that, the person responsible for the accident refused to give you information or didn’t even stop to see if you were all right or needed medical attention.
Under New York law, if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run in NYC, Long Island, or anywhere in the state, you’re entitled to file a lawsuit against the person who caused your injuries. Below, the attorneys at TonaLaw discuss New York law and a victim’s rights after a hit-and-run accident. We also explain what to do in a hit-and-run accident to protect yourself and your legal rights.
Legal Obligations After a Motorcycle Accident in New York
A hit-and-run accident is defined as someone leaving the scene of an accident without following the legal protocols. Even if you didn’t cause the accident, if you leave the scene without following the legal requirements under the law, you can be accused of committing a hit-and-run in NY. Additionally, if you leave the scene of an accident without providing accurate information (foir example, giving a false license number), you could still be charged with a hit-and-run even if you stayed after the accident occurred.
Under New York law, if it appears that there’s only property damage of less than $1,000 and no injuries, the parties must exchange the following information:
- Residence addresses,
- Insurance information, including insurance policy numbers,
- Driver’s or motorcycle license information, and
- License plate numbers.
If the property damage exceeds $1,000, you must also report information about the accident to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you damage a vehicle and the person is not around, you must report this information to the local precinct.
If there are injuries, you must take additional steps under the law. You must call the police and file a police report. You must also exchange all the information noted above, even if you are not at fault. You must also report the accident to the DMV.
Criminal Penalties for Hit-and-Run Accidents
People who leave the scene of an accident without following the law face criminal penalties. These penalties include the following:
- Fines of up to $500 if there’s only property damage and $2500 if there are injuries;
- Jail time of up to 15 days if there’s only property damage;
- Jail time of up to one year if there are minor injuries;
- Prison time of up to seven years if there are serious injuries or death;
- License revocation for at least one year;
- Points on your driver’s record; and
- A misdemeanor or felony conviction on your criminal record.
People who think they will get away with a hit-and-run are gravely mistaken. There are video cameras everywhere, and the police take these incidents seriously.
A Hit-and-Run Victim’s Legal Right to Sue
Victims of a hit-and-run in NYC or Long Island also have a right to file a civil case for compensation against the at-fault party. A civil case is different from a criminal case in several ways. In a criminal case, the state of New York prosecutes the case against the perpetrator. The victim of the hit-and-run may be a witness in the case but does not make decisions about the case. In a civil case, however, the hit-and-run victim sues for compensation. The victim, along with their attorney, makes every major decision involved in a civil case.
If the hit-and-run victim can prove their case against the negligent or reckless perpetrator, they can recover compensation for their injuries. Compensation may include:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Property damage,
- Pain and suffering damages, and
- Emotional distress damages.
The victim may also be able to collect punitive damages to punish the at-fault party. Punitive damages are generally reserved for people whose behavior is particularly egregious. Given the reprehensible nature of a hit-and-run, an experienced and skilled personal injury attorney may be able to make the case that you’re entitled to these damages as well.
What to Do in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
People often wonder what to do in a hit-and-run accident. No motorcyclist leaves the house expecting to be the victim of a hit-and-run. However, you should be prepared just in case the worst happens. Below, we describe what to do in a hit-and-run accident to preserve your health, safety, and legal rights to compensation.
Get Medical Assistance
The first thing you should do if you’re in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident is to get medical attention. Someone may call emergency medical assistance if they witness your accident, and you may be immediately taken to a hospital, depending on the gravity of your injuries. However, even if you can walk away from the accident, you should see a doctor immediately. Sometimes due to the increased adrenaline after an accident, you may not notice the extent of your injuries immediately. A doctor can fully assess, diagnose and treat you.
Call the Police
You should also call the police after a hit-and-run accident, even if there’s just property damage. If someone fled the scene of an accident without following the law, they could be charged with a crime.
The police will take a report and investigate your case. The police report and investigation could result in a criminal case against the perpetrator. Even if it does not, this will help you if you wish to pursue a civil case for compensation.
Photograph the Accident Scene
Document the scene of the accident as best as possible. Take pictures of everything that you can with your phone. You may even be able to take a video of the scene. Include in your images any signs, damage, and injuries.
Gather contact information from any witnesses to the accident. Witnesses can be extremely helpful after a hit-and-run. They can help establish fault and potentially give information that would lead to finding the fleeing driver.
Call Your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies require you to inform them of any accident, even if it’s not your fault. Thus, you should contact your insurance company after a hit-and-run. Be mindful of anything you say to the insurance company, especially any statements that they can use against you. Just keep your report to the basic facts.
Contact an Attorney
An essential step in what to do in a hit-and-run is to contact a personal injury attorney with experience fighting motorcycle hit-and-run cases. An attorney can investigate your claim, help track down the responsible party, and fight for your right to compensation for your injuries.
Call TonaLaw for a Motorcycle Hit-and-Run Case
If you’ve been the victim of a motorcycle hit-and-run in NYC or Long Island, you need competent legal counsel who can investigate your case, find the perpetrator, and pursue all of your available legal remedies. Fortunately, the motorcycle accident attorneys at TonaLaw have extensive experience representing New Yorkers in motorcycle accidents, including hit-and-run accidents. Contact our client-centered practice today.