Yellow Alerts May Help Hold More Hit-and-Run Drivers Accountable

March 17, 2016 | Category: Car Accidents

California Office of Traffic Safety data indicates that Los Angeles saw 3,146 fatal and injury hit-and-run collisions in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. Unfortunately, just about any Los Angeles auto accident attorney can attest to the fact that victims of these accidents have relatively limited rights when they cannot identify drivers who leave the scene of an accident.

Recognizing the serious nature of hit and run accidents, the California legislature enacted a new bill that can help apprehend more of these elusive offenders.

Yellow Alerts Just Got a Face Lift in California

Last year, the Governor signed California Assembly Bill 8 into law, effective January 1, 2016. This bill expands the use of the Emergency Alert System, which is used to inform the public of local, state and national emergencies, along with issuing local notifications of child abductions. The original system made use of highway signs to issue alerts, and now the system can also use those signs to issue alerts about hit-and-run accidents that meet all of the following conditions:

  • The accident must have caused serious injuries or fatalities.
  • An indication exists that a suspect fled the scene via the state highway system or is likely to be observed by the public on that system.
  • Law enforcement can identify a complete license plate number, a partial number with other identifying characteristics or the identity of the suspect.
  • Dissemination of the information to the public might either help avert further harm or accelerate suspect apprehension.

In its current form, the new law specifically pertains to accidents that occur on state freeways under the jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Accidents that take place within local jurisdictions must first be reported to CHP, which would make decisions pertaining to the publication of the reports on state freeway signs.

The bill is scheduled to remain in effect until January 1, 2019, unless a later statute essentially replaces it or extends it.

The New Bill is Designed to Enhance Criminal Justice

Victims injured in hit-and-run accidents cannot always locate the negligent drivers who caused their injuries. As such, they are generally forced to rely on their own uninsured motorist coverage — if they choose to carry this coverage under their own auto insurance policies. Naturally, an alert system that helps locate negligent hit-and-run drivers can help victims pursue compensation against liable individuals.

Identifying hit-and-run drivers, however, is no absolute guarantee that claims will always be easy or effective. First, such do not always carry insurance policies that can pay for injuries. Just as important, the new emergency alert policies are largely intended to help law enforcement get dangerous motorists off the road. Once the drivers are apprehended, they generally undergo criminal prosecution. This process is likely to interfere with the cases of injury victims seeking compensation.

Hit-and-run accident victims should strongly consider seeking experienced legal advice to identify the most appropriate options based on the details of their case. For a free initial consultation, call The Rudman Law Firm APC at 844-478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, at our Los Angeles office at 213-375-3777 or at our Studio City office 818-769-6969.

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