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CA authorities: hit-and-runs should not be called ‘accidents’

Most of California’s major metropolitan areas are filled with pedestrians and bicyclists as well as cars and trucks, and the Bay Area is no exception. Despite this, however, it is clear that motor vehicles rule the road.

In addition to the fact that these larger vehicles pose a threat to pedestrians and bicyclists, law enforcement agencies often fail to investigate pedestrian accidents with the same care and concern they give to auto accidents.

Some cities are working to change that. In Los Angeles, for example, city officials recently announced their intention to reduce the city’s estimated 20,000 hit-and-run accidents each year. The first step in their plan is simple but important: they want to stop referring to hit-and-run collisions as “accidents.”

This is an important change for a number of reasons. First, an injurious or fatal crash may indeed be an accident (although many are preventable). But as soon as a “hit” becomes a “hit-and-run,” it turns into a crime.

By reminding people that a hit-and-run crash is a crime, city officials are hoping to encourage more citizens to report these collisions; particularly when pedestrians and bicyclists are injured or killed.

The change is also important because if more hit-and-run crashes are reported as crimes, law enforcement agencies will face greater pressure to investigate individual incidents.

If you have been injured by a negligent hit-and-run driver, remember that you do have options for justice beyond whatever criminal charges may be filed. An experienced personal injury attorney can explain your rights and help you pursue appropriate compensation.

Source: L.A. Times, “City leaders try to change people's mind-set on L.A.'s hit-and-runs,” Ari Bloomekatz, July 26, 2013

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