A 48-year-old man was killed in an Encino hit-and-run crash early morning on October 7, 2013. According to CBS Los Angeles, the collision occurred at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Gaviota Avenue. The victim was walking outside a crosswalk on westbound Ventura Boulevard when a black SUV struck him. The SUV left the scene. Police said the SUV, a 2007 to 2014 black GMC Denali with tinted windows, sustained right front-end damage near the passenger side and had a license plate beginning with "6." The suspect, 26-year-old Grant James Valentine turned himself in the same evening. He was booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run. This was the third hit-and-run in Los Angeles in the last three weeks.
Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino has proposed a motion to implement monetary rewards for tips leading to the arrest of hit-and-run drivers. He has also called for the state legislature to impose stricter penalties on drivers who leave the scene of the accident. Buscaino has called on legislators to make the penalties equivalent to punishments in serious DUI cases.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of this fatally injured victim. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Leaving the Scene of a Crash
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver of the SUV initially left the scene, but came back and turned himself in. Under California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a), motorists are required to stop immediately at the scene of a crash and remain at the scene until authorities arrive - regardless of who may have been at fault. Motorists are also required to exchange information with other parties and most importantly, help the injured victim. In this case, the driver did none of the above.
In my book, there is absolutely no excuse for leaving the scene of a crash. "I panicked" or "I was scared" are simply not good enough when you have a human being lying on the roadway, broken and injured. Leaving the scene of an injury or fatal crash is not only illegal, but it is also inhumane and irresponsible.
Protecting Your Rights
In such cases, it would be in the best interests of victims' families to retain the services of an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that the negligent parties are held liable. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will also be able to advise families about how their own auto insurance policy might apply to an incident where the hit-and-run motorist is uninsured or underinsured.