Hit and Run Accidents and Compensation
A hit and run accident is defined as colliding with property, a person or any other stationary object and failing to stop and render aid. In most states, there is also an obligation to provide all relevant insurance information and summon emergency personnel if someone is injured.
Individuals leave the scene of accidents for a variety of reasons. A driver could be intoxicated, an undocumented alien, or just an individual who is unable to afford costly car insurance. Whatever the reason, hit and run accidents are a very serious offense.
In most states a hit and run charge will result in a conviction, a fine and damages paid to the victim for injuries or for property damage. The punishment the offender will receive will depend on the state where the accident occurred and the injuries sustained. In all states, if an individual dies the accident is considered a felony.
If you have been involved in a hit and run collision and you have sustained injuries or your property has been damaged, it is important to discuss your case with a hit and run accident lawyer. A hit and run injury attorney can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or if necessary help you file a personal injury lawsuit to receive compensation for your losses.
What to Do In a Hit and Run
If you can identify the driver
- If you are able to take down the license plate number and locate the driver of the vehicle that injured you, you may be able to recover damages from them or their insurance company. The driver may be identified by you, a witness to the accident or caught when they get their car repaired
- If the driver's insurance coverage is insufficient you may have to file a claim under your own underinsurance coverage (if you have it)
If you cannot identify the hit and run driver or they are not insured
- If you are unable to locate the driver responsible for the property damage and injuries you have sustained, it will not be possible to recover damages from their insurance company. Many times the drivers who flee the scenes of a crime are not insured anyway. In this instance, you will have to try to recover the cost of your loss through your insurance company under your uninsured or underinsured motorists' coverage.
- Most uninsured motorist coverage will only cover hit and run accidents if your car was actually hit by the driver's car. You will also need to notify the police within 24 hours of the collision.
No Fault Hit and Run States
There have been some new strategies developed in some states that may require each person to pay for their own damages regardless of who is at fault. This is called a no-fault policy. If you have a no-fault policy which includes personal injury coverage you may be able to receive compensation for your medical costs and lost income from your own policy. In some instances you may also be able to receive additional insurance coverage from the guilty driver's policy.
In some states you are allowed to file a liability claim against the person at fault if the damages exceed the insurance benefits that have been paid. There are differing thresholds to determine when a claim can be filed. Some states require damages reach a certain monetary threshold, other states have a serious injury threshold and others require both thresholds be met.
In Order to file a personal injury claim against a drive you need to be able to prove negligence, causation, and damages. Negligence can be proven if you can prove the driver did not act with due care in operating his vehicle. If you can prove that the driver's negligence caused the accident then you can show causation. Finally, you will have to prove that you have suffered damages as a result of the accident. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages or pain and suffering. In the case of a hit and run driver who is drunk or acts with willful actions you may be able to prove malicious intent and file a claim for punitive damages too.
If you live in a no-fault state is important to talk to a hit and run accident lawyer to determine your options for compensation.
Visit our state law pages for more information regarding personal injury laws in your state
Hit and Run Lawyers
If a hit and run driver has caused property damage, injured someone or killed someone by their reckless behavior then you may be able receive compensation. Insurance coverage varies depending on the type of policy you have and which state you live in. Most insurance policies will insure your property, you and other people involved in a collision.
Due to the complexity of insurance and the variation of state laws it is important to discuss your options with a hit and run attorney. A personal attorney familiar with hit and run collisions can negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance adjusters and also determine if there is a statute of limitations for a personal injury claim.