While much of the national attention directed at Los Angeles’ roadways revolves around traffic congestion, there is a darker side of the city’s roads that is starting to come into the national psyche: Los Angeles as the hit-and-run capital of the world. According to the LAPD, an incomprehensible 20,000 hit and runs occur in Los Angeles every year. Further, a staggering 48% of the accidents in the city in 2009 were hit and runs. Compare that to the national average of just 11%.
Even worse, this epidemic may be grossly understated as the police department admits it doesn’t bother including the information if the hit and run doesn’t involve an injury or if no city property is damaged. Last year, detective Felix Padilla of the Los Angeles Police Department’s traffic division sat down with 20/20 to discuss what he’s seen in over a decade of work on the force and the reasons behind the high rate of hit-and-runs in L.A. According to him:
The things that I’ve done, the things that I’ve seen, the average person doesn’t see in their lifetime. I think most cops can agree with that, for better or worse. Every case has a face, in the beginning. And, depending on the severity of it, it stays with you a long time, something that you remember, sometimes forever.
Padilla says one of the biggest reasons for the high rate of hit-and-run incidents in L.A. are the high numbers of undocumented immigrants living in the city. According to him, these people are driving without a license and afraid to interact with police this also leads to a lack of witness participation which makes these cases so hard to solve. According to a recent report by the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, an estimated 1 in 10 residents living in Los Angeles County is undocumented.
Change is not coming quickly but it looks like city officials are doing whatever they can to more involve the public to help solve these cases. According to Padilla, “I think if we let the public know that these crimes are so frequent that we need their assistance, once they grasp that concept, you know, they will be able to help us more. The more they help us, the more cases we’ll solve.” Just last week city officials announced a plan to increase the reward for information leading to the capture of hit-and-run suspects. You can read more about this program in our previous post.
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, you can benefit from the help of a skilled personal injury attorney. Ultimately what must be proven to win a case is that someone else was negligent or careless and that it was their negligence or carelessness that caused your injury. At Cohn & Swartzon, it is our duty to prove this. We encourage you to bring your personal injury case to our accomplished attorneys at Cohn & Swartzon, regardless of the type of accident or injury you have suffered from. Contact us today and sign up for a free case evaluation!