Can victims legally chase down hit-and-run drivers?

Can victims legally chase down hit-and-run drivers? »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Two cars were involved in a violent crash Saturday at White Lane and Highway 99, sending several people to area hospitals.

The cause: A hit-and-run victim was in pursuit of the alleged culprit, prompting the alleged hit-and-run driver to drive recklessly and plow into another vehicle, the California Highway Patrol said.

The chain of events started when 20-year-old Angela Martinez allegedly sideswiped a vehicle while exiting southbound Hwy. 99 at Panama Lane. Officers said the alleged victim followed Martinez as she re-entered the highway going north.

Martinez reached speeds of up to 80 miles per hour trying to get away from the hit-and-run victim according to CHP investigators and eventually made an effort to exit at White Lane. But Martinez was traveling too fast, hit a curb, went airborne and slammed head-on into a bystander's car.

Both vehicles had major damage. Rashida Robertson, who was driving the bystander car, was taken to a hospital with major injuries. Martinez and a passenger were hospitalized with moderate injuries.

Eyewitness News spoke to police and attorney David Cohn about what liability a hit-and-run victim could face while trying to chase down the responsible party.

Both police and the attorney said it's not illegal to follow the hit-and-run driver if the victim drives safely and obeys traffic laws, but they advised victims to instead snap a photo, take note of the license plate number and call 911. They said leaving the pursuit to the police is a better option.