How long does it take for police to investigate a hit and run?

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

Being involved in a hit and run is not at all a fun thing for many an obvious reason. Injury, medical costs, trauma, all of these can occur as a result of a hit and run. One thing that many feel anxious about over a hit and run is potentially having to deal with a drawn-out police investigation and legal claim made against the person or persons responsible for the incident. But how long exactly does it take for police to even investigate these things?

How long does it normally take for a police investigation to conclude over a hit and run?

When a person is involved in a crash, whether they are responsible or someone else is, it is the obligation of all involved parties to stop and assess the situation. Not only assess how bad the damages to the vehicles were, but also assess if there are any injuries that occurred from the incident. Certain states put certain obligations on drivers involved in such an incident to do certain steps before they leave the scene, which may involve sharing information between affected parties and contacting the police in order to get an official report filed. Failure to do this in states where you have that obligation would see you held responsible, at least in part, for a hit and run. There are even situations where you may not even be involved in the hit and run, at least not directly anyway. In that case, it is typically expected that the person who damaged your property (typically a vehicle, though it can include other property as well). While it may be understandable why a person may leave the scene of an accident they were involved in, it does not make it right to do, especially if they were intoxicated while driving (which is a whole other can of worms).

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As far as determining what a normal investigation constitutes, that’s a bit of a tricky question. After all, there can be a wild variance of situations involving a hit and run. Hit and runs can involve a variety of different accidents. Many involve a vehicle-on-pedestrian impact, while many others may involve two vehicles colliding. In both situations, however, one of those vehicles (often the responsible party) has fled the scene. In either of these, though, the status of those who were victimized by the hit and run may influence, positively or negatively, how efficient the police investigation is able to go. For example, a hit and run could be something as simple as someone hitting you and fleeing the scene and leaving you with only minor injuries, something that may limit neither your ability to function in your day-to-day life but also make you able to participate in the investigation yourself. Lawyers also provide a good way for you to communicate with the police, as something you say may be used against you in the investigation.

On the other hand, however, imagine if the hit and run was not so fortunate for you in the end, and you ended up being put into a coma or otherwise incapacitated. Obviously, this may not be the norm for hit and runs, but it is absolutely a possibility. In the event that this happens, you may find that the police are less able to investigate properly into the situation. After all, they are unable to talk to the affected party, and must investigate other things, such as witnesses to the event, security footage (if available), or even something as minute as the color of paint that may have come off in the hit and run collision, all of which could narrow down the investigation. If it is something that occurred with no witnesses, with no security camera, no evidence left behind, and an unconscious victim, the investigators may find themselves having that much more difficulty ascertaining the full truth of what had occurred. Having a lawyer and/or your insurance agent on your side can also make things easier, as they can conduct their own investigation using information from the police report.

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The types of damages are also going to influence how seriously the investigation is taken. For example, if a hit and run only results in monetary damages (such as automobile repair), police are not likely to take the situation as a top priority. In the event of an injury or even perhaps a death, police are that much more likely to prioritize it, given that the damages are far more significant than in the prior scenario. Further, if the hit and run was determined to have involved some degree of malice, that would likely influence the police into further action and motivation. Basically, if you have any expectations as to how long things are going to go, drop them, otherwise you are bound to be disappointed. The actual process to determine responsibility for a hit-and-run is likely going to be more drawn out than you want it to be, so if you keep your expectations in check, you will be so much better off for it