If you are in a hit and run, you can make a claim against your own auto insurance policy for benefits out of the uninsured motorist coverage. If the claim isn’t handled properly, you may not recover all you are entitled to under the law, or worse, your claim could be denied in full. Our attorneys have a great deal of experience with these kinds of claims and can give you the guidance you need to successfully navigate a uninsured motorist claim.
About Hit and Run Accidents
Hit and run accidents are stressful because they leaves you feeling helpless after a frightening event. How can you put the power back into your hands when stranded after a car accident? This article will explore some dos and don’ts of hit and run accidents and how to handle them.
A Hit and Run accident is when you have car collision, and the other driver takes off leaving the scene of the accident. The driver knowingly leaves the scene without providing their information.1 This can make it difficult to document what happened at the scene, which is essential for insurance companies and the police. In addition, hit and runs drivers can be charged with violations of criminal law, both misdemeanor charges and even a felony charge if a person is injured.
Unfortunately, hit and runs occur often and have increased by 7.2% since 2009. In 2016 alone, there were 2,049 known hit and run fatalities in America. On average, there are 682,000 hit-and-run accidents each year.2 These numbers are staggering and underscore why it is so important to know how to respond to hit and run accidents.
Dos and Don’ts of Hit and Run Accidents
1. Don’t leave the scene – especially to follow the other driver.
It is tempting to follow the person who damaged your car and possibly hurt you. However, it is essential to remember to stay at the scene. Staying at the scene can allow you to get eyewitness statements and determine who was there at the time of the accident. You will also have more credibility with the police officers when they arrive on the scene and won’t question who was really at fault. You are also in shock after the accident, making it dangerous to drive. Driving a car while upset could lead to another car accident or aggravate the other driver without knowing how they will respond. It is much safer to stay at the scene of the accident.
2. Call the police and file a police report or accident claim
Calling the police is important, especially if someone is injured. The priority should be to help anyone who is injured and to get help. Filing an accident report will allow the police to look for the missing driver and is useful when filing an accident claim against the other driver. Having official documentation describing the incident and putting the other driver at fault is beneficial later during the claims process.
3. Get as much information about the other car as possible
Hit and runs can occur in the blink of an eye but remember that gather much information. This initial information will allow police officers to find the offender and will enable you to win a claim against the insurance company. Some things to be on the lookout for are:
- License plate number
- The other vehicle’s make, model, and color
- Description of damage to the other car
- Which direction the other car was headed
- Photos of the damage to your car
- Location, date, time, and cause of the accident
- Photos of the other vehicle
- Photos of the other vehicle license tag
- Pictures of the other driver
These things will allow officers to understand who was at fault and give you a better case.
Ask witnesses for information
The people who watched the accident occur can have a clear vision of what happened and inform you or the officers. After they give you or the police officers a report, get their names and phone numbers.
Insurance and Hit and Runs
Insurance will usually cover expenses depending on your auto policy. Call a lawyer if you were injured in the accident. There are different types of coverages with hit-and-runs.
- Collision coverage
Collision insurance policies will help you to repair or replace your vehicle, depending on the damage. In addition, you can make a claim on the policy even if the other driver is not found.
PIP, or Personal Injury Protection, coverage is no-fault coverage and will pay medical, loss of wages and other benefits.
- Uninsured motor vehicle coverage
Uninsured motorist policies will pay medical expenses, lost wages, and personal injury damages to you if the driver at fault for the accident doesn’t have insurance or if the driver at fault for the accident remains unknown.
Your uninsured policy will exclude coverage if there is no evidence of physical contact with the uninsured hit and run vehicle and when there is no reliable competent evidence to prove the facts of the accident from a disinterested witness not making a claim under the policy.3
So, get photos of the physical damage, and get the contact information of all witnesses.
How A Lawyer Can Help You After Hit and Run Accidents
1. Request an Investigation
The unknowns about the other driver in hit and run accidents is sometimes the scariest part when trying to recover damages. Hiring a lawyer will allow for an investigation to be open to track down the offender, or prove an uninsured motorist claim.
2. Open Records Request
A lawyer would help you track down the offender by getting any records regarding the accident. In some situations, police departments make it difficult to gather necessary information like photographs, witness statements, or dash cam footage. An attorney could subpoena any relevant records that you have been unable to get through an open records request.
3. Receive the most for your damages from hit and run accidents
Our lawyers will help you navigate tricky insurance policies and get the most back from the injuries and damages that occurred in the hit-and-run accident. These reasons and more are why you should talk to an attorney when involved in a hit-and-run accident. Set up your complimentary case assessment today.
2Hit and run crash analysis using association rules mining. Taylor & Francis. (n.d.)