New York City hit-and-run accidents are on the rise. In the first half of 2021 alone, there have been 47 documented cases. This is the highest number since 2015, when the city started keeping track of this crime.
Police have made little progress in lowering hit-and-run cases in the city. Of the 47 cases recorded this year, there have been 11 arrests. This is only 23% of the total cases. In 2020, only 1% of cases led to arrest. These low numbers are a consistent trend since 2015, and the problem isn’t getting any better.
Why Is Police Response So Poor?
There are many reasons why hit-and-run cases go unsolved. First off, they are difficult cases to solve. Police usually have only eyewitness accounts as evidence. Typically, the event happens quickly, and no one can write or remember the offender’s tag number. Many people cannot accurately identify the make or model of the car, either. Physical evidence is also a dead end, as only the leftover damage is present.
There is also a lack of political will to solve these crimes. Hit-and-run cases are not often publicized or sensationalized in the media. Citizens demand responses to street crime, but they tend to go silent over traffic crimes. The NYPD can boast arrests for 54% of last year’s homicides. These numbers look great in the news. When it comes to egregious traffic crimes, there is little fanfare for a job well done.
According to Attorney Daniel Flanzig, “Any time a death involves a vehicle, it’s looked at as different from a death involving a knife or a handgun. We don't think about criminality behind the wheel except when there are drugs and alcohol.”
The New York police have not dedicated much manpower to handling hit-and-run cases, either. In 2020, there were only 22 officers and four sergeants handling 374 accidents. The police continue to claim that they devote as much time and attention as possible to each case, but the numbers suggest otherwise. It seems that until more attention is brought to this problem, it will continue to be minimally addressed.
Failed Attempts to Solve the Problem
The fine for a hit-and-run was raised to $15,000 in 2014. Superficially, this appears to be a significant, hard-hitting action. However, since 2015, only seven people were charged this fine. All seven had their fines dropped, and to this day, there has been no public explanation as to why.
The issue is further hampered by New York’s “Rule of Two.” According to this precedent, prosecutors rarely charge someone with criminal negligence unless they already have two misdemeanors on record. Essentially, someone could have their hit-and-run charges dismissed simply because it is their only offense.
What Are Your Options?
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a hit-and-run, what are your options? If you cannot get help from the authorities, you may need to turn to civil justice. In civil court, you can sue someone for your injuries, regardless of how the matter was handled in the criminal justice system.
Your lawyer will likely be more dogged in their attempts to solve the case. Attorneys want you to win, and they have several investigative methods at their disposal. They can investigate property damage and your physical injuries. Using this alongside witness testimony, police records, and security footage, they can meticulously recreate the accident, showing the court how you were wronged. If your lawyer can demonstrate a “preponderance of evidence,” you may be able to win the case.
If you, unfortunately, lost a loved one in a hit-and-run, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. The process is like that of a standard personal injury case, and both you and the deceased’s estate can be compensated for the driver’s negligence.
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run, reach out to us today. We have the tools and skills to investigate your case, and we can help you seek justice in court. Our number is (866) 352-6944, and you can contact us online.