All traffic collisions are stressful, but some are more devastating than others, such as hit-and-runs. These accidents are complicated and more nuanced as the at-fault driver flees the scene, attempting to escape responsibility for their actions and leaving any victims to tend to themselves.
Not only do the injured parties lack help at the scene, but they also don’t have important resources they might use to recover physically and financially from their injuries.
Hit-and-run victims frequently have more worries and questions than answers and help.
Injured parties need to know:
A hit-and-run occurs when a driver causes a crash and leaves the scene. Under state laws, anyone involved in a vehicle wreck has to stop at the scene, whether it is with another vehicle, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian. Leaving the scene without stopping and taking steps to ensure others’ safety and exchanging information is illegal.
Still, drivers leave without stopping for various reasons, including:
No matter the reason for leaving the wreck scene, multiple problems are ignited when someone does this. Unfortunately, those problems don’t just impact the person who left; they affect those injured or drivers who incurred property damage in the crash.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a hit and run, we are here to help. You can’t change someone else’s poor decisions, but you control what you do next to help yourself. One of the first steps you should take is to call an experienced car accident attorney.
In other types of crashes, the at-fault driver and their insurance carrier typically end up paying for your losses. Also known as damages, they might include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, when the at-fault driver flees the scene leaving no information, how can the injured parties file a claim on their insurance policy? Sadly, there’s really no way they can. Instead, they are left dealing with the expenses and hardships of the crash on their own.
The Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates that nearly 13 percent, or one in eight, of all drivers in America, are currently uninsured. If an uninsured driver causes an accident, they are more likely to leave the scene or not bother to stop at all to avoid further legal repercussions.
For insurance purposes, a hit-and-run accident are like an accident in which the negligent party did not have auto insurance coverage. The problem with uninsured drivers and hit-and-run accidents is that when an accident occurs, no matter whose fault it is, the known driver or the driver with insurance faces the monetary burden of the accident. If this happens to you, you need the services of a reliable car accident lawyer who will fight for you.
An average of 682,000 hit-and-run accidents happen each year, or about one every minute, according to AAA researchers. These accidents are increasingly common. Even ones that do not cause injury or death can cause thousands of dollars in property damage.
The three general types of hit-and-run accidents include:
State laws demand that all drivers stay at the scene whenever there is an accident, even a minor one. If they do not stay to exchange relevant information and contact local law enforcement when required (usually required if there are injuries, fatalities, or property damage), they can receive a misdemeanor or even felony conviction and a hefty fine. Even still, some drivers leave the scene of the accident immediately. Perhaps they do not have insurance, are wanted by law enforcement, are in denial, or don’t want to accept responsibility for the accident.
Once the other driver has left the scene, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to hold them accountable. However, you should absolutely still file a police report. It’s possible that there are witnesses or surveillance camera footage that can help locate the driver.
If the police find that driver, they will hold them criminally accountable for their actions, and you can pursue a civil claim against them or their insurance company for compensation. But in many cases, the police never find them.
For this reason, many states mandate uninsured motorist insurance coverage. In some states, it will be part of your policy unless you elect to reject this coverage in writing. The good news is that you can use uninsured motorist coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering after a hit-and-run accident. Even if this coverage is not mandatory, you can choose to carry it with your other auto insurance coverage, and this is always wise.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy, you can file a claim with your insurer. However, even though you are insured, many auto insurance companies will use several tactics to deny your claim or decrease its value. Suppose you feel that your insurance company is not living up to their agreement with you. In that case, you need to hire a skilled car accident attorney to ensure you are getting full and fair compensation for your damages from the accident.
If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, you might still file a claim under other types of coverage on your policy. So it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance company and an attorney.
To access your coverage and enforce your full legal rights, you should know these things about UM coverage:
If you find yourself involved in a motor vehicle accident, stay at the scene even if the other party doesn’t. After you’ve been in a hit-and-run accident, every moment counts.
As quickly as you can:
Damages in a hit-and-run accident are similar to those in any motor vehicle accident. They will depend on the severity of the accident and the types of injuries the victims sustained.
Special damages have an inherent monetary value, such as:
General damages are those that don’t come with a pre-assigned value.
They are often simply called pain and suffering, but can also include:
A hit-and-run victim can receive compensation for both special and general damages, either through an insurance claim or by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver (if the police located the driver).
Even if the police find the hit-and-run driver and the driver faces criminal charges, you still need to seek compensation for your damages on the civil side. A possible conviction for the liable driver won’t pay for your damages.
Some hit-and-run cases may qualify for punitive damages. Only a judge or jury can award these damages, as they only apply in personal injury cases when the liable party with extreme disregard for someone’s safety and well-being. In some cases, leaving the scene of an accident can trigger punitive damages. Instead of compensating the victim for their damages, punitive damages punish the liable party and attempt to prevent them and others from similar conduct in the future.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming your own insurance company will treat you fairly after a hit-and-run accident or that the driver will be found and held accountable. Instead, speak to a trusted legal advocate to determine your next steps. They can help you identify all sources of potential compensation so that you receive the money you deserve for your damages.
Car accident lawyers know how to identify all sources of compensation, even in a complicated hit-and-run case. Reach out for a free case evaluation today.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
Toll Free: (855) 529-2442
Phone: (312) 924-7575
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