Do cars have to collide to be considered a hit-and-run?

On Saturday, April 19, a car accident occurred that took the life of an individual driving a passenger car in Louisiana. The hit-and-run accident was a serious one in which the victim's vehicle flipped over on the road. When it hit, a fire broke out in the overturned vehicle.

It was unclear whether the victim's injuries, the damage from the collision or the fire itself caused her to become trapped, but for whatever the reason the driver couldn't get out of the vehicle before the fire broke out. The Iberia Parish Coroner was called to the scene and pronounced the victim dead.

Investigators determined that a second vehicle had been involved in causing the collision, but that the driver of the second vehicle had fled the scene of the accident before they arrived.

For the victim's family, this accident no doubt matters immensely. The accident has most likely changed their lives in the most irreversible way. Although this accident would matter significantly to this family -- as would any fatal collision -- what makes this collision particularly notable for a New Orleans motor vehicle accidents law blog is that the two vehicles never touched.

In this case, the hit-and-run driver didn't "hit" the other vehicle at all. Investigators determined that the second vehicle had cut in front of the victim's car. It was when the victim swerved to avoid the second vehicle that the victim's car struck the culvert and flipped over.

What if an accident is caused by two vehicles that never actually touch, and yet leaves one or more people with serious injuries? Does this fact eliminate negligence or bar recovery in a personal injury lawsuit? The answer begins with no, but this is the type of issue that makes personal injury lawsuits more complicated than one might think. It is also precisely why just "any" attorney won't do either.

Source: KATC, "Non contact hit and run causes a fatality," Cecilia Stevenson, April 20, 2014

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