What may happen to a driver who is charged with a fatal hit-and-run in San Diego? 

California – October 18, 2022

It is unlawful for motor vehicle operators to leave the scene of accident, and when fatal injury results, the penalties can be quite severe for those who do not stay at the scene after an accident.  A wrongful death attorney has the experience to research all relevant accident laws for individual claims and can digest that information in support of a civil case building with a criminal component, while tracking governmental agency and court filing timelines after a motor vehicle operator hits someone and leaves the scene in California.

Wrongful death.

A wrongful death legal action can be brought by loved ones when a person dies because of the negligent, reckless, or deliberate act of another.  Damages in these lawsuits can include:

  • Medical bills and expenses for treatment of the injury.
  • Funeral and burial expenses,
  • Compensation for present and future lost wages,
  • Compensation for the pain and suffering of the victim from the date of injury,
  • Punitive damages that are intended to punish the person who caused the death.

In personal injury cases, the recovery of damages is contingent on proving another individual, or entity was the cause of the injury and owed a duty of care to the victim.

Comparative Negligence. 

California law holds individuals responsible for his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another during the course of ordinary care, meaning that if an individual is responsible for any part of activities that led to injury the compensation will be adjusted to a percentage of fault assigned to accident victims.  If a fatal accident was caused due to hit-and-run action by the driver, the criminal act may have some bearing on the outcome of the personal injury civil case.  An injury attorney can advise in this type of case regarding a request for an award of economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Punitive damages.

Under California law, it is rare that punitive damages are considered and will be based on occasions where an individual’s actions were found to be reckless, intentional, egregious, and harmful resulting in the injury. Leaving the scene of the accident after hitting someone with a motor vehicle may be considered egregious in some instances.  A California car accident lawyer will research the intricacies of each case where a wrongful death claim is filed.


A hit and run driver that causes serious bodily injury to another may be charged with a misdemeanor, or a felony.  If individuals are convicted of a misdemeanor violation under CVC 20001(b)(2), they may face a hit and run punishment of:

  • A minimum of 90 days and up to one year in jail,
  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000 dollars, or
  • Both, imprisonment and a fine.

If individuals are convicted of a felony violation under CVC 20001(b)(2), they may face a hit and run punishment of:

  • Two, three, or four years in prison
  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000, or
  • Both, imprisonment and a fine.

Hire a lawyer.

Talk to a lawyer after a car crash involving a hit-and-run that causes a wrongful death loss.  An experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, can be resourceful in the civil action against the negligent driver, supporting the case with outcomes from the criminal component.


Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, a Professional Law Corporation

501 West Broadway, Suite 1650

San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619-233-8021

Fax: 619-233-3730


  1. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=20001


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *