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Deaths from hit-and-run accidents increasing

With hit-and-run accidents on the rise in Wisconsin and across the nation, lawmakers are looking for ways to stem the tide of the problem and the accompanying fatalities. For example, in Los Angeles during a recent 12-month period, nearly 50 percent of all the car accidents in the city were hit-and-run wrecks. LA Weekly indicated that 20,000 hit-and-run accidents happen in the city annually and 4,000 of those result in injury or death.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirm that the number of deadly accidents when people flee the scene increased from 2009 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2011. Even more telling is the startling rise in hit-and-run fatalities of 13.7 percent during the same three-year time frame. However, during that same period, overall traffic fatalities dropped 4.5 percent. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that drivers flee the scene in about 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths. In three out of five hit-and-run deaths, a person on foot is the victim. Alcohol is another huge factor that contributes to the problem. The head of the agency encouraged pedestrians to be more aware of their surroundings when they are walking.

A university professor who has studied hit-and-run accidents believes that a motorist will flee the scene of an accident if they think they might be wrong. They might be impaired, or not have a license or be an inexperienced driver. Arizona is dealing with this increase by requiring that those who leave the scene of an accident involving serious injury have their licenses automatically suspended for five years.

The consequences of a hit-and-run accident can be devastating. A personal injury attorney might be able to file a lawsuit on behalf of clients who have suffered financial loss in the form of medical expenses, or funeral costs because of such an accident.

Source: USA Today, "Fatal hit-and-run crashes on rise in U.S.", Larry Copeland, November 10, 2013

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