Driver who fled later called police?

by Leslie
(Redding, CA)

My daughter was recently involved in a hit and run, where the driver of the vehicle that hit her in a cross walk left without giving any sort of information. He later contacted the police to report the incident, well after it had taken place and I had already contacted the police myself.

I do not know what my options are as the officer I spoke with seemed to think that because the driver "didn't mean to" hit my daughter that there was no need to file a lawsuit over his negligence. This doesn't seem right. What can I do about this? Thank you for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Driver who fled later called police?":

Leslie (Redding, CA):

The police officer you spoke with quite obviously was not dispatched to the scene of the hit and run. From the facts you present, no one called 911 at the time of the collision, nor were any police officers dispatched to the scene. This implies your daughter wasn't injured, or if she was, her injuries were minor.

While you can always file a lawsuit based on negligence, to succeed in that lawsuit will require a showing of damages. Damages can include your daughter’s medical or therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, bandages, etc.), lost wages, and her pain and suffering. Without damages, your daughter’s lawsuit will fail.

In the context you provide, the police officer's comments were inappropriate. It is difficult to understand why the officer would make such a statement.

There is another possibility. For the officer to say the driver didn't mean to hit your daughter may have been predicated on the officer's belief your daughter may have been negligent in crossing the street at a place other than an intersection or area where pedestrians are permitted to cross.

Section 21950 of California's motor vehicle code states in part...

"(a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard."

You certainly have the right to file a complaint against the police officer. To do so, contact the Redding Police Department at (530) 225-4200.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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