Hit-and-Run Car Accidents
While getting injured in an accident is bad enough, seeing the responsible driver fleeing the scene only fuels further frustration and anger. Most hit-and-run drivers leave the scene of an accident out of panic since their situation may fall within any of these circumstances:
- Lacking insurance
- On probation
- Driving a stolen vehicle
- In possession of contraband
- Having the status of an undocumented immigrant
- Driving under the influence
- Possessing no valid driver’s license
To such individuals, getting caught and facing likely jail time outweighs the legal and moral responsibility to stop, give assistance if applicable and provide identifying and insurance information. For this reason, many offenders are treated severely if they hit someone and run away.
In many instances, the offender is not caught unless the injured driver or a witness was able to observe the vehicle’s license plate, or a portion of it, and the car’s make and model and description of the driver so that police can track it.
Proof and Insurance Issues
Depending on the state where the hit and run occurred, you may have difficulty recovering compensation in this type of collision. Of course, if the responsible driver is tracked down and the evidence indicates that that vehicle was involved, then you can bring an injury claim against the driver.
You may, however, have to prove that contact with the other vehicle occurred. Some states require physical contact or your claim will be denied. If the other driver caused you to take quick evasive action that led to loss of control of your car but no contact took place, then you may not be able to bring a viable claim.
Other states are not so strict, so it is imperative that you contact a knowledgeable attorney about the state law governing the circumstances of your case. Nevertheless, it is essential that you promptly contact police while you are at the scene and report the accident and then report it to your own insurance company. If the hit and run occurred at an intersection or area where there are numerous businesses, then cameras may have captured it. Debris in the roadway and of course damage to your own car are other factors indicating that a collision did take place.
If physical contact was made or the applicable state law allows you to recover if you can demonstrate that another vehicle caused you to lose control that led to an accident, you still may not be able to find the responsible driver. In these cases, you can seek compensation from the uninsured portion of your own auto liability policy, provided you have one.
Passengers can also bring an uninsured claim under your policy.
Should you be in a no-fault state, you may be entitled to personal injury protection or PIP benefits under your policy, regardless of fault. To a limited amount, your PIP coverage can pay medical expenses and lost wages as well as some other costs. If you are able to bring an injury claim against another motorist, your insurer is given a credit for what it paid out.
In most hit-and-run matters, an uninsured motorist claim (UM) is made. This is similar in all respects to a typical claim made against a second party except that the UM matter is ultimately resolved at binding arbitration if the parties cannot settle on the amount of compensation. An arbitration is a less formal and less expensive proceeding than a jury trial except that the rules of evidence are still followed. The parties usually agree to a single arbitrator to hear the matter or refer it to an arbitration organization like the American Arbitration Association (AAA) where you can agree to a retired judge from a list that is provided to the parties.
All decisions are binding and final. Appeals are rare and usually have to allege that some kind of fraud was perpetrated in the arbitration process before an award will be overturned.
Have You Been Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident? Call Us Today!
If you’ve been injured in a hit and run or lost a loved one in a fatal crash, you need a dedicated team of attorneys and legal professionals fighting for your rights. Our attorneys have a long and proven record of helping the victims of auto crashes get the compensation they deserve.
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We’ll fight insurance companies, negligent operators, and reckless drivers to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.