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How Long Do Hit-and-Run Investigations Take?

Seth Harris

Last modified on November 6, 2023

How Long Do Hit-and-Run Investigations Take

Getting into a car wreck in NYC is painful and scary. If the other driver leaves the accident scene, it gets even more frustrating. You’re sitting there in shock, probably injured, and all you can do is watch them speed away.

What do you do after a hit-and-run? You could call the police to initiate a hit-and-run investigation. You could also talk to a New York hit-and-run car accident attorney from Harris Keenan & Goldfarb to learn about your legal options following the crash.

What Do Police Do in a Hit-and-Run?

If you get hit by a driver who leaves the scene, whether you’re another driver, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist, you should still call the police. Even if you didn’t cause the accident, you must report it within ten days of the occurrence if there is more than $1,000 in property damage and/ or bodily injury.

When the police officer arrives, they can complete an official accident report detailing the road and weather conditions, parties involved, possibly a description of the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle, and usually a crash diagram. They may take photos or a video (and you should, too) and interview witnesses. The police report may also be part of the investigation into the hit-and-run driver.

The hit-and-run investigation process could take as little as a few days or weeks.

How Do Police Find Hit-and-Run Drivers?

You can expect the police to interview you after the wreck so they can gather evidence to track the driver down. Although you aren’t required to have a lawyer during the initial interview, some people find it comforting to have an attorney with them. You may remember more details about the crash than you think, which a skilled police investigator could extract in the interview. Your attorney can help prevent you from saying something that might harm the value of your claim later on.

There are other methods NYC police use to track down drivers who leave the scene of the accident, like:

  • Locating the driver based on their license plate number
  • Narrowing down the search based on the color, make, model, and year of the vehicle
  • Analyzing CCTV or other surveillance footage that may have captured the wreck and the car’s license plate number
  • Interviewing witnesses to the crash to see if they noted information about the hit-and-run driver
  • Evaluating the damage to your car and searching for vehicles with corresponding damage, such as dents in a specific area or scrapes of paint from your car

The police may look for a driver based on their physical description. Any detail you can recall about the collision can be helpful to their case. The more information the police have, the better their chance of apprehending the suspect.

How Long Before Police Stop Investigating My Hit and Run Accident?

There isn’t a hard-and-fast time limit for the police to find a hit-and-run driver. Sometimes, police can find the driver fairly quickly, especially if they have a license plate number or partial plate number.

How long they’ll investigate may also depend on your injury. If someone was killed in a hit-and-run accident, then the driver who left the scene could be charged with a felony. In those cases, the police may use more time and resources to locate the driver than they would for a less serious case involving only property damage.

How Long After a Hit and Run Will Police Contact You?

In some cases, the hit-and-run driver is never found. However, the officer or detective assigned to your case should update you regularly or after they uncover more evidence.

When they follow up with you, it usually depends on the progress of your case. If the officer finds a possible suspect, they may re-interview you or have you try to identify them. And, if police find the driver and have enough evidence to charge them, you could be called a witness in the criminal proceedings. At this point, you may hire your own lawyer to protect your interests. Even if the other driver left the accident scene, they could still claim you were responsible. This could put your other legal options in jeopardy.

Can I Sue a Hit-and-Run Driver?

How Long Do Hit-and-Run Investigations Take

Yes, if you or the police find them, and if your accident-related expenses either exceed your PIP coverage limits or your injuries meet the serious injury threshold outlined by New York law. Someone leaving the scene of an accident could be considered negligent and, therefore, responsible for the wreck. Even if you shared part of the responsibility for the crash, leaving the crash scene may make it look like the other driver had something to hide.

However, the other driver may not have caused the accident, even if they left the scene. They could claim that you caused the accident. Maybe they would say they left the scene because they feared you. Without a lawyer, your claim could get murky and more complicated than it should be.

Even if a driver leaves the accident scene, they still have the right to claim compensation if they were injured and their losses exceed the limit of their PIP coverage. This doesn’t mean they’ll be successful, but it could create a legal headache for you.

However, you may need to work fast to locate the hit-and-run driver. New York’s statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit allows three years from the accident date to file. If you miss that deadline, there’s a good chance the judge will dismiss your suit.

How Can an NYC Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Help Me?

An experienced NYC hit-and-run attorney can help in multiple ways. They can advise you during any police interviews and protect your rights. Your attorney may also conduct their own investigation into the crash. Many car accident law firms have access to resources that an ordinary person may not, like a private investigator or expert accident reconstructionist. If the police locate the other driver, your attorney can file a lawsuit against them.

You have the right to demand compensation for losses you experienced from the wreck and claim compensation to cover your medical care, lost wages from time missed at work, and pain and suffering. We can help. Contact Harris Keenan & Goldfarb today at 1-800 PAIN LAW for a free consultation with an NYC hit-and-run accident lawyer.

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A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.



The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.



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Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.



The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.



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A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

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