You're driving down the freeway in California when another driver starts to merge into your lane without signaling. You panic and pull the steering wheel to the side, desperately trying to avoid the collision.
While the two cars do not make contact, thanks to your evasive maneuver, you do leave the roadway and hit the gravel. Your car goes out of control and spins into a road sign before stopping.
The other car just keeps on driving. You know that driver had to see the crash and it is clear that he or she caused the accident. Is that a hit-and-run?
It is, according to the California Highway Patrol. An officer noted that contact is not always necessary. If a driver does something that forces someone else to crash and then leaves, that driver is still responsible for the accident. He or she may be prosecuted for a hit-and-run when the authorities finally find the second car.
After all, had you done nothing, there would definitely have been contact. That driver made a critical mistake and put your life in danger. Should he or she get a free pass just because you were able to instinctively react to avoid the crash? That hardly seems fair, and the California Highway Patrol agrees.
Even without contact, an accident like this can lead to serious financial costs, from medical bills after getting injured to lost wages when you cannot go to work while healing and getting your car repaired. After the police find that hit-and-run driver, make sure you know what options you have to seek financial compensation.