A sixty-five-year-old Milford woman who was known and well-regarded around town for her service as a constable was killed earlier this month when a large truck struck her as she was walking down the street. The driver left the scene, but later turned himself in. It’s not clear that any charges will be filed, as the driver may not have known he struck anyone and reports are that he was cooperating with authorities.
While this crash resulted in the death of a pedestrian, the fact that the truck driver stepped forward and brought some closure to the case is noteworthy. Many hit-and-run crashes are never solved.
Hit-and-runs, more formally “leaving the scene” of an accident, aren’t uncommon in our area. Only a couple of days after the constable was hit in Milford, a man was killed when he was struck in a crosswalk in Mattapan; that driver also turned himself in, this time a day later.
Not long after that, a man was killed in Springfield by an intoxicated driver who—despite extensive damage to his car as well as injuries he sustained in the crash—went on to make a fast-food stop at a Taco Bell before being located by police. That driver has been charged with multiple offenses, including motor vehicle homicide.
A September 5 crash in Lowell, in which a UMass student was hit, had a somewhat happier ending. The victim spent a few days in the hospital, but survived the crash, and that driver also eventually turned himself in.
The state of things in Eastern Massachusetts, however, isn’t nearly as distressing as the situation in Southern California. Around Los Angeles, nearly half of all traffic accidents in 2015 (more than 28,000) were hit-and-runs, and nearly four out of five of their hit-and-run crashes go unsolved.
The number of hit-and-run crashes has been rising nationwide, and they now account for as many as one in five of all pedestrian traffic deaths. The problem is so significant in some places that several cities and states have launched information campaigns, including Los Angeles and Florida (which saw more than 92,000 hit-and-run crashes in 2015).
It’s long been noted that many drivers who flee the scene do so because they’re already guilty of another offense (most often driving drunk or driving without a license) which might carry stiffer penalties than a leaving the scene charge. In Massachusetts, however, the drunk driving penalty (a maximum of thirty months in jail, a $5,000 fine, and a one-year license suspension for a first offense) is less than that of leaving the scene of a fatal crash (up to ten years in prison and as much as a $5,000 fine).
Hit-and-run crashes are a threat to everyone, whether on foot or in a vehicle. If you become the victim of this kind of accident, you should have an experienced legal team on your side as you pursue justice and restitution for your injuries and property damage.
At Joel H. Schwartz, PC, we understand the complicated nature of automobile accident law, including hit-and-run cases, and we’ll put our knowledge to work for you. Pick up the phone and call 1-800-660-2270 or submit our online form at the bottom of this page to arrange a free discussion of your case. We’ll give you the information you need to help you decide what to do next.