Hit and run accidents magnify the severity of an auto accident in a couple of major ways. First of all, the driver is fleeing from their responsibility, second, they may be the only person nearby who is able to help the victim. If you have been the victim of one of these accidents, you’ve experienced the frustration and helplessness of essentially being injured by an unknown assailant!
Beyond the criminal ramifications, if you have been involved in a car accident and the other driver fled the scene of the crash, you may still be able to pursue compensation for your injuries. This is possible if you have a hit and run or uninsured motorist claim against your own insurance policy. Your insurance company will “step into the shoes” of the driver that caused the motor vehicle collision and pay on your claim.
Hit and Run Accidents in the U.S.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a hit-and-run crash is defined as a crash where a vehicle is a contact vehicle in the crash and does not stop to render aid (this includes drivers who flee the scene on foot). Statistics show that almost one in five (18 percent) pedestrians killed in the U.S. was a result of a hit-and-run crash.
This is one reason why many states are treating hit and run accidents with more severity. For example, a new Pennsylvania law boosts the maximum sentence for a fatal hit-and-run to 10 years from the current seven. Additionally, the crime has been upgraded from a third-degree offense to a second-degree felony. For the families of hit and run victims, though, the changing penalty offers little consolation.
“A life is a life,” says the mother of a child hit and run victim, “My son is gone.”
After the Accident
If you have just been the victim of a hit and run accident, there are steps you should take immediately after the accident:
- Assess your medical condition: You may need medical attention, so you should immediately contact an ambulance if possible or try to attract the attention of a passing car or pedestrian who may be able to aid you.
- Jot down any information you can remember about the car and driver who hit you: The most important information is type and color of the car, any portion of the license plate number or letters you can remember, and any details about the driver.
- Gather any names and addresses of any witnesses at the scene if you are able: They may be able to help you identify the driver, and corroborate your story.
- Contact the police immediately: They will come to the scene to assess what happened and write an accident report. This report may become critical if you decide to pursue a personal injury case.
- Contact your insurance company: Even if the hit and run driver cannot be found, they may provide you with coverage.
An injury attorney can set up a claim, send a demand package to your insurance carrier, and attempt to negotiate a settlement on your behalf. If a settlement cannot be reached, your case would most likely resolve in arbitration under the terms of your policy.
Additionally, even if you do not have an auto insurance policy, our firm will look to recover from a household family member’s insurance policy if one is available. Knowing these types of legal gems is what makes legal representation so valuable!
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, request a Free Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a lawyer now.