Recognizing the Danger of Hit-and-Run Accidents
If you or a loved one is involved in a hit-and-run accident, the chances that the New York Police Department will be able to solve your case are slim. Even when tragic crashes occur, motorists who flee accidents scenes are rarely apprehended. As the number of traffic-related fatalities spike, so do the number of hit-and-run accidents in New York state. During the beginning of the year, over 47 deadly or near-deadly hit-and-run crashes occurred on New York City’s streets, which marked the highest number for any half-year duration since 2015, which was the first year in which data of this kind was published. Among these 47 hit-and-runs, the Collision Investigation Squad made 11 arrests, which is just 23% of the hit-and-run accidents that occurred.
Although legislative efforts were made to address the number of drivers who commit hit-and-run accidents, a large number of motorists are still leaving the scene of the crime and avoiding penalties. Law enforcement apprehended only 1% of drivers who were responsible for hit-and-run cases in 2020, which marked the lowest number of arrests ever recorded. Current data projections suggest that in 2021, 94 potentially deadly hit-and-run crashes will occur, but that fewer than 25 arrests will be made.
Hit-and-run investigations can be highly detail-intensive. They require law enforcement to speak with witnesses to gather information about how the crash occurred to locate the driver who committed the hit-and-run. Sometimes, law enforcement has to recreate the crash with the help of experts. Any time deaths occur and a vehicle is involved, the incident is treated as unique from deaths involving weapons like firearms or knives.
Previous Efforts to Combat Hit-and-Run Crashes
Last time a noticeable increase in hit-and-run accidents occurred, the New York Police Department promised to improve its crash unit through the addition of law enforcement officers as well as analyzing a larger number of cases. As of 2020, however, the department had fewer detectives investigating a lower number of cases than before these improvements were promised. The New York Police Department also turned down a city council offer in 2019 to spend $2.3 million on retaining 15 additional detectives to apprehend more hit-and-run drivers.
At a recent city council hearing, a police officer revealed that 22 officers and four sergeants worked for the unit. Since 2015, fewer than 10 drivers have received fines for hit-and-runs involving fatalities or serious injuries.
Legislative Efforts Have Led to a Reduced Number of Hit-and-Run Charges
It is worth noting that even if drivers are detained by law enforcement, other reasons exist for why they might escape penalties. A legal rule, referred to as the rule of two, states that prosecutors are not likely to pursue criminal charges against hit-and-run drivers unless they have committed two or more misdemeanors. Even though it is still against the law to leave the scene of an accident involving a “known injury”, motorists often claim that they are not aware they were involved in a crash or that another person was injured.
Contact a Compassionate Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one is injured in a hit-and-run accident, one of the best things that you can do is contact an experienced Long Island car accident attorney. Do not hesitate to schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney at Cohen & Jaffe LLP today.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900