Proposal to Help Victims of Hit and Run Accident Gains Support in LA

Los Angeles city officials continue to push for “Medina Alert” system to help catch hit and run drivers.

Proposal to Help Victims of Hit and Run Accident Gains Support in LAAt hit and run accident occurs every 26 minutes in LA. Experts estimate victims and witnesses have about 30 seconds to collect identifying information about the driver before that individual flees the scene. For an injured victim, this task can be all but impossible. However, by encouraging bystanders to get involved, officials hope to bring more hit and run drivers to justice and boost the LAPD’s dismal hit and run case solving rate of 20 percent.

Denver, Colorado has already implemented a program for just this purpose. It is called the “Medina Alert” system. The Medina Alert system was inspired by the actions of a taxi driver who followed the hit and run driver who struck and killed Jose Medina in 2011. The taxi driver wrote down the car’s license plate number and reported it to the police, which led to the arrest of the hit and run driver. Now, the Medina Alert system is used in Colorado to give police and the public a means to communicate about suspected hit and run drivers. The police can issue alerts with descriptions of vehicles or drivers and the public can respond with their own tips.

Here in California, state legislators proposed adopting the Medina Alert System last year. However, the idea of broadcasting alerts on electronic highways signs was rejected as too expensive by Governor Brown.

Now, the LA city council’s public safety committee is pushing to adopt a form of the Medina Alert system in the city. Councilmen report that they are already working with tow truck operators and auto shops to report suspicious vehicle damage. Now, they want to offer a standing reward of up to $50,000 for individuals who give tips in fatal hit and run accidents, $25,000 for tips on serious injuries, $5,000 for lesser injuries and $1,000 for property damage. A proposal to this effect is currently being drafted by the City Attorney’s office.

With or without the incentive of a reward, individuals who witness a hit and run accident should always attempt to record any information they can about the driver. The most important pieces of information to capture include:

  • License plate number—even an incomplete plate number can help
  • Vehicle make, model, and color
  • Information about the driver and passengers—age, sex, description
  • Where the driver headed after the accident

If it can be established who was driving the car at the time of the accident, the victim may then have a chance at securing compensation for their injuries via a personal injury claim.

  • Fernando Vargas

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