Ellis Law News: Billionaire’s Hit-and-Run Crash Leaves Single Mom With $4K Bill

September 12, 2013

Ellis Law Corporation


Daily News owner and aging billionaire Mort Zuckerman was having a bit too much fun in East Hampton, New York on August 11 when he rammed his Lexus into single mom and store manager Charlene F. Peele’s parked Ford sedan, all but destroying the vehicle. Zuckerman, while claiming to have left his business card at the scene, shortly left the crash site—a violation of state law. Worse, according the New York Post’s Jeane Macintosh, Zuck’s insurance company is refusing to pay for the total cost of the damange, sticking Peele with $4,000 to pay on a car she can’t drive. The East Hampton Star describes the crash:

“Driving his car south on Main Street on a clear, sunny afternoon, Mr. Zuckerman, 76, suddenly steered right, his Lexus striking Ms. Peele’s parked 2009 Ford Fusion, according to the accident report. The impact pushed Ms. Peele’s car, which was parked opposite the East Hampton Presbyterian Church, several feet forward.”

Peele ended up sending her Ford to the junkyard, leaving her without a way to drive. On Monday — four days after the Star reported Peele’s ordeal, and nearly a month after the accident — she told the New York Post that Zuckerman might not even be aware that his insurance company is stiffing her.

“I had no idea who he was, and it’s really not important. I just want this mess straightened out so I can get my car replaced and get on with my life,” said Peele, who is in the process of being transferred to Miami and leaving for Florida in three weeks. “I called Mr. Zuckerman’s office and spoke to his assistant, and said,
“‘I just don’t want any problems’ and was told ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be fine,’” Peele said.

Given the Post’s long-standing rivalry with his own New York tabloid, however, Zuckerman is likely more aware of his insurance’s stinginess than he was on Sunday. And he could certainly afford to make amends: assuming his net worth of $2.4 billion remains accurate, he could buy Peele more than 140,000 new Ford sedans.

Hit and Run is a Crime

All California drivers are required to stop immediately at the scene of an accident, but in this large populated states we’ve seen a sharp rise in this type of crime.

The Los Angeles area particularly has the distressing distinction of leading the nation in hit-and-run collisions. These accidents are particularly notorious because of the nature and circumstances of these incidents. Many motorist on the California highways are uninsured and can can face jail time or heavy fines if found to be driving without the proper qualifications. Hence in a large city like Los Angeles many times fleeing the scene of an accident has become an easy out to escape criminal charges.

The Los Angeles car accident lawyers of Ellis Law are particularly outraged by hit and run accidents. In addition to helping hit and run victims and their families pursue justice and fair compensation for their losses, we also partner with community members and law enforcement agencies to help apprehend hit-and-run drivers and hold them accountable.

California Hit-and-Run Laws

Under California law, all motorists who are involved in an accident that results in an injury or death of a person must immediately stop at the scene and remain there until authorities arrive. California Vehicle Code 20001 (a) states: “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.”

Also, under Vehicle Code 20003, drivers involved in an injury accident must give the information to the police officer including name, current address and registration number of the vehicle. Most importantly, motorists are required to do what they can to provide assistance to the injured victims. This could be something as simple as calling 911. A number of hit-and-run victims suffer fatal injuries because they do not get the medical attention they need right away. In most cases, they are left to fend for themselves or to die by the person who hit them.

Hit-and-Run Statistics

According to the California Highway Patrol’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were 141 fatal and 14,735 injury hit-and-run crashes statewide. During that same year, 147 people were killed and 19,009 people were injured in California hit-and-run collisions. A further breakdown of hit-and-run statistics shows that seven people were killed in head-on collisions, four were sideswiped, nine were rear-ended, 21 were killed in broadside accidents, 11 were struck by an object, four were killed in rollover accidents and 83 victims were pedestrians.

The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s reported that the city saw 20,000 hit-and-run crashes just in the year 2012. According to local media reports, out of the 20,000 pedestrians, bicyclists or other motorists who were involved in hit-and-run collisions, 4,000 were injured or killed.

Celebrities in Hit-and-Run Accidents 

Recently, Chris Brown, a famous celebrity, was involved in a hit and run accident. He fled the scene leaving the victim their to fend for herself. His claim is that he felt because of his star status that his own personal safety was under subjection. This was not a smart move as his fleeing the scene eventually lead to charges being brought up. If you are involved in a car accident never run. It’s not only the smart thing to do, but it’s also shows that you understand that even though you be at fault. The other persons well being is also important to you.

Seeking Compensation in a Hit-and-Run Case

In most cases the at-fault driver can be held accountable for the victim’s medical bills, suffering and other related damages. This process becomes more complicated when the driver flees the scene of the crash. The authorities are not always able to track down and apprehend the at-fault driver, which leaves fewer legal options for the victim and the victim’s family.

Victims of California car accidents may file an injury claim against the at-fault driver to receive financial compensation for their significant losses. Typically, it is the victim and his or her family that suffers after a hit & run collision. They go through tremendous emotional and financial pressures in the aftermath of such an incident. Ideally, the negligent driver’s insurance will cover the victim’s medical bills and other financial, physical and mental losses. There are, however, legal options available when the at-fault driver is not apprehended or has not been found. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may be able to pursue compensation from your own insurance provider.

If you’ve been the victim of a hit and run accident please call the police immediately and then call a personal injury lawyer at 310-641-3335. These type of accidents require you to get the best legal representation so that justice can be provided for you and your family.