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In criminal court, the odds aren’t good, to say the least. Nationwide, fewer than 10 percent of hit-and-run drivers are arrested and successfully prosecuted in criminal court. There’s usually little physical evidence at the scene, except a vague witness statement and perhaps some vehicle wreckage. Additionally, when these cases go to court, the burden of proof is very high. More on these things below.
The odds of solving a hit-and-run in civil court are much higher, especially if a tenacious San Jose hit & run lawyer handles the case. Civil lawyers often find evidence that police investigators ignore. As a result, attorneys usually hold these negligent drivers responsible for their actions in court. Even if the driver can’t be located, these victims still have legal options. For example, most hit-and-run victims can file uninsured motorist claims with their own insurance companies.
As mentioned, police investigators often have little to work with in the wake of a hit-and-run accident. So, many of these inquiries are effectively over before they start. That’s especially true if, as is often the case, investigators view car crashes as civil matters instead of criminal matters.
A San Jose car accident lawyer, often working alongside a private investigator, can find additional evidence, such as:
In addition to physical evidence, police investigators and San Jose car accident attorneys alike often rely on voluntary admissions from negligent drivers.
These statements often aren’t admissible in criminal court, because of the Fifth Amendment. If officers don’t inform suspects of their right to remain silent, statements they make are usually inadmissible.
The Fifth Amendment doesn’t apply in civil court. So, as long as these statements are voluntary, they’re usually admissible in civil court, Miranda warnings or no Miranda warnings.
Investigators must collect an overwhelming amount of evidence in criminal court. The burden of proof, beyond any reasonable doubt, is very high. It’s difficult to convict defendants with circumstantial evidence.
Things are different in civil court. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
Assume an eyewitness identifies the hit-and-run vehicle as a dark colored pickup with a license number that ends in XY. This evidence is so vague it’s practically useless in criminal court. But an attorney can use it to identify the vehicle’s owner. Since it’s more likely than not that the owner was driving the vehicle at that time, maximum compensation is usually available.
Car crash claims are usually complex. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Campbell, contact the Solution Now Law Firm. We have offices in San Jose, Los Angeles, and Oakland.
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