The number of fatal hit-and-runs hovers at around four percent nationwide. In Louisiana, that percentage is slightly higher. In the Big Easy, the number of fatal hit-and-run car accidents is at an alarmingly high 18 percent. Some people blame the city’s nightlife or simple panic while others say that it’s because the penalties are more lenient for hit-and-run vs. drunk driving.
Whatever the reason, hit-and-run drivers could possibly be ensuring that the person they hit will die. If that driver had stopped, rendered aid or even simply called 911, emergency medical care could have saved the victim’s life. At any rate, the families of these victims will never know.
The New Orleans Police Department says that over 30 percent of the fatal accidents in the city involve alcohol. Drunk drivers who are the cause of a fatal wreck often face vehicular homicide charges which carry a minimum sentence of five years with a maximum of 30 years. If a drunk driver flees the scene and sobers up before being apprehended, that driver may only face hit-and-run charges which do not have a minimum sentence and the maximum is only 10 years. Even if a driver is convicted of negligent homicide in connection with that crime, the maximum is only a total of 15 years, and there is still no minimum sentence. The system almost encourages drunk drivers to leave the scene.
When families lose loved ones in hit-and-run car accidents, they may also turn to the civil courts to pursue ms for justice. Under Louisiana law, the family of a fatal accident victim may file a wrongful death claim seeking monetary compensation – based on evidence of negligence by another party –for the costs and damages associated with the family’s loss. The money won’t change what happened, but it may give the family some sense of peace that they were able to gain a little justice on their own.