How Long After a Hit and Run Accident Can You Be Charged

Under California law, motorists have a legal obligation to stop their vehicle, exchange information, and remain at the scene of a traffic accident. The failure to do so is a serious violation — it could lead to criminal charges. Nonetheless, hit and run accidents remain a serious problem in our state. 

Law enforcement will investigate a hit and run. Though, prosecutors and injured victims have a limited amount of time to file a claim against the responsible party. Here, our Los Angeles hit and run accident lawyers provide an overview of the criminal and civil statute of limitations for hit and run crashes in California. 

California Hit and Run Accidents: Criminal Statute of Limitations

Under California law (California Vehicle Code 20002(a)), it is a criminal act to leave the scene of an accident without stopping or exchanging information. Drivers who violate this statute can be charged with a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by a maximum penalty of six months in prison, a $1,000 fine, and loss of driving privileges. 

In recent years, California legislators have taken action to crack down on hit and run drivers. Among other things, state representatives extended the criminal statute of limitations for hit and run accident charges. Under a 2014 criminal statute (California Penal Code §803(j)), which applies to a number of criminal offenses, state prosecutors can now file charges against a hit and run driver up to six years after the date of the offense. Though, these charges must be filed within one year after the date that the responsible driver was first identified as a suspect by police. 

California Hit and Run Accidents: Civil Statute of Limitations

While California’s increased statute of limitations for hit and run accidents may allow prosecutors to hold more defendants accountable in criminal court, it will not do much to help injured victims — at least in a direct financial sense. A hit and run accident injury claim in California must still be filed within two years of the date of the crash

Whether you are bringing a claim against the responsible driver, against a third party, or against your own insurance provider, you must take action before the two-year civil statute of limitations runs out. The best step you can take to protect your rights is to reach out to a top-rated Los Angeles car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a hit and run collision. Do not wait to take action. Your attorney will initiate an immediate investigation of the crash. 

Get Help From a Hit and Run Accident Attorney in Los Angeles, CA

At the office of El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, our California personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling hit and run accident claims. If you or your loved one was hurt in a collision with a hit and run driver, we are here to help. For a free, no-obligation consultation, please contact our law firm right away. From our office location in Los Angeles, we serve communities throughout Southern California.