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How Often Are Hit and Run Accidents Solved?

Hit and run accidents are often traumatic, not just because they cause you injuries and property damage, but also because they frequently go unsolved. Victims are left without a sense of closure – and are often angry or disappointed that the system was unable to help them find justice.

How often are law enforcement officers able to track down people who hit and run?

And what recourse do you have if you’re the victim of a hit and run?

What to Do If You’re the Victim of a Hit and Run?

First, if you're ever the victim of a hit and run accident, there are several steps you'll need to take:

  • Remain calm. It's important to remain calm at all times. You may feel angry, scared, or shocked by this accident, but you're going to make much more effective, practical decisions if you can control those emotions.
  • Don’t pursue. Your first temptation may be to pursue the person responsible for the accident. If your car is working, or if you're on foot, you may believe you're able to track this person down and force them to stop. This is not recommended. Pursuing a fleeing driver it's going to put you and others at risk of further harm – and probably won't lead to justice.
  • Gather information. As much as possible, gather information about the accident. As the car is driving away, see if you can catch a license plate or at least acknowledge the make and model of the vehicle. Take photographs and videos of the scene and write down everything you can remember.
  • File a police report. It's important to file a police report in the aftermath of your hit and run accident. Police reports serve as official reports of what happened – plus, this action may mobilize the police to investigate the crime.
  • Talk to a lawyer. Talk to an auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer may be able to facilitate a thorough investigation and eventually bring the driver responsible for the accident to justice. The initial consultation is usually free, so there's no reason not to talk to an attorney and see if they can provide you with support.

How Often Are Hit and Run Accidents Solved?

According to one study, only 8 to 10 percent of hit and run accidents are ever solved. This percentage fluctuates in response to many variables, including the severity of the accident, the location of the accident, and more. But no matter how you look at it, this percentage is distressingly low. Only a tiny minority of hit and run accidents are ever considered “solved,” with the perpetrators brought to justice.

Why So Low?

Why is the number of solved hit and runs so low?

There are several possible explanations, including:

  • Lack of witnesses. Put yourself in the mindset of a driver who would flee an accident. If you get into an accident and there are many witnesses around, would you still consider fleeing? Probably not. Even drivers prone to running away are likely to stay if there are a suitable number of witnesses who saw them commit the action. Conversely, if there are no witnesses around, the driver is typically more likely to flee. Accordingly, a disproportionate number of hit and run accidents occur in areas with few, if any witnesses, and a smaller number of witnesses means a higher chance of the case going unsolved.
  • Lack of mobility. If you're the person who was hit by a vehicle, chances are you'll be suffering from limited mobility. Your vehicle may not be in drivable condition or you may have significant injuries. Accordingly, you may not be able to see details of the car that hit you in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Fleeting memories. Human memory is highly flawed, and it’s even more susceptible to distortion during a traumatic event. Even if you make a mental note of the vehicle and driver that hit you, you may forget about it or misremember it by the time you start talking to police officers.
  • Unhelpful information. If you can't remember the license plate of the vehicle that hit you, police won't have much information that they can work with. If there are no active leads in the investigation, most police officers aren't going to waste their time pursuing things further.
  • Police unwillingness to investigate. In line with this, some police officers are simply unwilling to investigate a hit and run accident they know has a low probability of ever getting solved. This is especially true of police departments that are busy solving higher-profile crimes. Ironically, it is sometimes this lack of effort that's responsible for cases going unsolved.

The unfortunate reality is that the majority of hit and run accidents go unsolved. But that doesn't mean you're totally helpless or that you have no recourse. If you follow the right steps in the aftermath of the hit and run accident, you can maximize your chances of eventually finding the offending driver and getting the compensation you deserve.

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