It’s a point that’s been hammered home time and time again on this blog: if you are unfortunate enough to strike a pedestrian with your vehicle, do not flee the scene of the accident. Never, ever, ever. Not only is it against the law to do so, but running away paints you in a very negative light if the victim (or a surviving family member) files a civil lawsuit against you.
An auto-pedestrian accident which occurred last night in Las Vegas is an excellent illustration. A woman was walking across Fremont Street near the intersection with East St. Louis Avenue (less than a mile west of the Las Vegas Expressway) when she was hit by a vehicle which fled the scene. The woman had to be transported to Sunrise Hospital with critical injuries. Metro Police are looking for either a large truck or sport utility vehicle in connection with this incident.
But what’s unusual about this case is a quote from Sergeant Richard Strader about the driver who struck the woman: "Bottom line, this was not the vehicle’s fault, so if that person would have stopped" and not fled, then he or she would not have been cited for any traffic-related violation.
Even though Sgt. Strader’s comment appears to clear the driver of wrongdoing or responsibility regarding the auto-pedestrian accident, the driver could still face a personal injury lawsuit filed by the woman in the future (in addition to criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident). And if a jury is told that the defendant fled the scene, they may be more inclined to award damages to the plaintiff – despite the fact that "this was not the vehicle’s fault."