Have You Been Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident in Phoenix?
Hundreds of thousands of people are driving in Arizona on any given day. Some of those drivers are traveling to work, some are running errands, some are picking up their kids from practice, and some drive as part of their job duties. The majority of these trips begin and end without incident and the drivers continue on with their day.
However, some drivers are not that lucky and instead get in a motor vehicle accident that ruins their day. One of the most serious ways that an accident can go from bad to worse is when the at-fault driver doesn't stop and flees the scene. Our Phoenix hit and run accident lawyers assist in this type of crash regularly.
Accidents are relatively common in Arizona and across the nation, and some accidents result in vehicle damage only. However, when a more serious crash does occur, it often leaves drivers and passengers with serious injuries. And even worse, sometimes there are fatalities.
The experienced Phoenix auto accident attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help you in your time of need. If you have injuries in an accident where a driver fled the scene, contact us today for a free consultation.
All about hit and run accidents in Phoenix
A hit-and-run accident happens when another driver causes a motor vehicle collision and proceeds without stopping afterward. A driver can commit this type of incident when they hit another driver, another person, or a piece of property. Drivers must reach out to the authorities or leave a noticeable note around the damaged property. When drivers fail to perform this action, they automatically violate the law.
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents are common in Phoenix. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, 98,778 car accidents happened in a recent year. Of those accidents, 13,512 car accidents involved a hit-and-run driver.
Hit-and-run accidents are not victimless crimes. When a driver deliberately continues driving, that leaves potentially injured victims without immediate assistance. The driver also does not take responsibility for their actions by providing their insurance and license information.
You might think that liable drivers fleeing the scene of a crash will limit your opportunity for compensation. Fortunately, this is not always the case.
Common causes of hit and run accidents
There are many reasons why drivers commit hit-and-run accidents. Most of these reasons stem from wanting to avoid future legal consequences, especially if police officers will report to the scene. Whether a driver was drinking and driving, driving without a license, or driving without insurance, drivers who cause accidents want to avoid legal penalties. These legal penalties can involve arrests, license suspensions, criminal charges, and more.
Drivers also might want to avoid liability for a crash. What they do not realize is that by fleeing the scene, they will likely face even more legal problems if the police identify them.
Victims of hit and run accidents
It can seem terrifying when you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident. You truly are in a position where you have little to no control of your circumstances. In addition to being hit, you and your passengers must deal with the fact that the person who hit you is nowhere around. This guessing game can create additional stress in an already traumatic time.
Never assume this is a hopeless situation, however. Many victims recover compensation for their losses after a hit and run with help from a car accident attorney.
Injuries caused by a hit-and-run crash in Phoenix
Another issue you must deal with is any injuries you endured from your hit-and-run accident. Some common injuries include spinal cord injuries, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding, crushed limbs, fractures, and more. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may have to rely on emergency medical services. Ambulance rides, emergency surgeries, pain medication, and medical devices are additional costs you may have to consider addressing.
Legal penalties stemming from Phoenix hit-and-run accidents
There are severe penalties for drivers who commit hit-and-run accidents. Hit-and-run accidents are extreme forms of negligence, and Arizona takes this conduct seriously. Drivers convicted of a hit-and-run accident can face several legal penalties.
If the accident caused property damage only, the resulting charge is a misdemeanor and can result in either 30 days in jail or a fine of up to $500. The penalties can become much harsher if the hit-and-run accident physically injures one or several people. A driver can face a minimum of two years in prison and lose their driver’s license in this case.
Legal rights of hit-and-run crash victims
As a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may think that there are few legal options that you can use to your advantage. This is incorrect, as there might be legal rights that you can exercise to receive compensation for your accident in many situations.
One of the most important legal rights is filing an insurance claim. If you can identify the other driver, you can file a claim with their insurance company. If they fled the scene due to not having adequate insurance, or the police did not find the driver, you still might have other options. One common source of compensation is uninsured motorist coverage.
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
One type of coverage that will be most beneficial to you is uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage can cover the costs of any damages caused by an uninsured driver. Insurers treat hit-and-run drivers the same as uninsured motorists if you cannot find them.
It is always wise to purchase uninsured motorist coverage for both bodily injury and property damage. While this coverage is not mandatory in Arizona, you should not opt out of it in case a hit-and-run crash happens.
Even if you are filing a claim with your own coverage, you still want a car accident lawyer to handle the entire process. Many people are surprised when their insurance companies make collecting compensation difficult, and having an experienced attorney is critical to prove your claim.
Filing a lawsuit after a hit and run accident
Because the other driver is liable for your car accident, you can sue them in court for your injuries. Even after you have obtained coverage for your injuries from your insurance policy, you are still allowed to file the lawsuit.
If you are successful in your lawsuit, you will be required to reimburse your insurance company for any coverage they have provided for your injuries.
One of the main benefits of a lawsuit is that the other driver will be held legally responsible for your car accident. Instead of any doubt or uncertainty about who caused your accident, your lawsuit will have the opportunity to establish who is the actual at-fault driver of your accident.
5 Recoverable damages from a hit and run crash
Another benefit of filing a lawsuit is legally holding another party responsible for recuperating you for your damages. The negligent party must pay for the damages you list in your lawsuit. You can request damages from the other driver, including medical expenses, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and more.
1. Medical expenses
Any medical expenses you pay out of pocket can be compensated through your lawsuit. In addition to your current medical expenses, you can also list future medical expenses if your injuries are serious.
2. Lost income
If your injuries affected your ability to make a living and earn income, you can list the money you missed out on as one of your damages.
3. Property damage
If the property damage caused by your hit-and-run accident was so detrimental, you can list the amount of your property damage as one of your expenses. This damage includes the cost of your totaled vehicle or any other significant property damage.
4. Pain and suffering
This damage compensates you for the physical or mental anguish you experienced from your car accident and resulting injuries.
5. Funeral and wrongful death expenses
If your loved one’s injuries led to their untimely death, you can seek damages for their wrongful death. You might receive compensation from their uninsured motorist policy or the at-fault driver. Damages for wrongful death can include funeral expenses, lost financial support, lost household services, and more.
Settling a hit-and-run case
Your hit-and-run accident case can result in two outcomes. The first outcome can be a settlement. This is important because the courts experienced a significant backlog before the pandemic. Because of this, legal professionals search for various ways to resolve legal matters outside of court. One of these options includes a settlement usually reached through other resolution methods.
While a settlement seems like a compromise from both parties, insurance companies can use a settlement to their advantage. Because insurance companies know that you want to resolve your lawsuit as quickly as possible, they will lowball you and throw out a settlement amount beneath you. Insurance companies will do this to pay out as little money as possible and prevent you from pursuing legal action in the future.
Resolving the situation through a trial
Your lawsuit can still end up in a trial if the insurance companies do not want to compromise with you. Insurance companies want to play hardball and wait until you sign their lowball settlement. When insurance companies perform this action, you have the right to take your lawsuit to trial. Your lawsuit will request that you provide additional evidence, testify on your behalf, or counter the other lawyer’s arguments to build the most robust case for yourself.
How a Phoenix hit-and-run accident lawyer can help you
One of the most devastating feelings you can experience is allowing someone to get away with violating your rights. Allowing a driver who committed a hit-and-run accident against you is equivalent to that feeling. You want to ensure that you do everything in your power to hold the driver responsible for the damages they have caused you.
Seeking the help of a Phoenix car accident lawyer can boost your chances of winning your lawsuit. A lawyer can benefit your case in the following ways, among others.
Identifying the driver of your hit and run accident
Your lawyer has the resources that might help you identify your at-fault driver. Your lawyer can collaborate with police officers and other legal professionals to help discover the identity of your hit-and-run driver. While you may believe it is like finding a needle in the haystack, the good news is that many people are on their cell phones, and many witnesses are more than happy to share what they witnessed. In addition to the help of witnesses, other resources such as surveillance cameras can assist with the search.
Demonstrating the other driver’s liability
In addition to identifying the driver, your lawyer can prove how and why they are liable for your hit-and-run accident. Using witness testimony and surveillance footage can display the other driver’s actions. Your lawyer can also prove how the other driver’s actions were negligent towards you and how they caused you to experience serious harm.
Dispute the insurance company’s accusations
Your lawyer can also dispute any accusations the insurance company will make against you. Whether your lawsuit brings you to settlement negotiations or a trial, the insurance company will attempt to paint you in a negative light. They will try to make convincing arguments that the jury or other fact finders in your lawsuit may believe.
Your Phoenix car accident lawyer can make credible arguments about why the insurance company is incorrect and use the best evidence to strengthen those arguments. Your lawyer can also present a stronger case for why the other driver should be liable for your hit-and-run accident.
Call a Hit-and-Run Attorney in Phoenix
An auto accident is bad enough, but it's even worse if the defendant flees the scene. If you or your family member has been the victim of an accident, contact a Phoenix personal injury accident lawyer at Abels & Annes, P.C. today. We offer free consultations about your case and your legal rights. At Abels & Annes, P.C., we want to help. We have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.If injured in a hit and run accident, call us today at (602) 819-5191 or contact us online for a free consultation.