Being the victim of a hit and run accident is uniquely problematic on so many levels. There’s no one to exchange information with, no one to report to your insurance company, no one to interview to determine fault, and no one to sue if you seek punitive damages. But don’t think that your hit and run is a worthless lawsuit. It isn’t.
Presumption of Fault
In a hit and run, the person that “ran” is usually presumed to be the one at fault, so at least that’s one less thing to worry about. This presumption can be negated, but the burden of proof generally shifts to the one that fled the scene. And in a true hit-and-run, that person is never found.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If the hit and run driver is never found, the victim must find a way to be compensated for actual damages incurred. The first place to go is your own insurance company. You will be able to file an insurance claim for a hit and run only if you have Uninsured Motorist coverage on your policy. This claim should cover your medical bills and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering, up to the limit on your policy.
Then Consider Contacting a Personal Injury Lawyer
This is where it can get tricky. We’ve written about this before, but for those new to the post … The insurance company is not on your side. They may seem like it, and you may believe that you are their customer. But this isn’t Nordstrom’s or Kohl’s, and there can be a conflict of interest. Your goal is to get as much paid for as possible. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible. If you believe that the offer they make you is too low, or taking too long to pay out, you should hire your own personal injury lawyer.
If you are wondering if your insurance company’s offer was too low or too slow, consider this. A woman who was involved in a hit and run accident recovered $250,000 from her own insurance company, with the help of a personal injury lawyer, under an uninsured motorist claim, after having to have spine surgery and endure chronic neck pain. In another case, again, through the use of a personal injury attorney, a pedestrian who suffered a pelvic fracture in a hit and run accident while crossing in a cross-walk on the University of Southern California campus was able to recover $240,000 under an uninsured motorist coverage.
Most personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency basis, and therefore you risk paying little money upfront, and may only end up paying a fee if your lawyer is able to get you a financial settlement or trial verdict. If you’ve been hurt in a hit and run accident, don’t feel you need to settle for whatever your insurance company offers to pay. Contact a local personal injury attorney to discuss the facts of your case and see if the settlement is reasonable. You have nothing to lose, and potentially much to gain.
- Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near You (FindLaw’s Lawyer Directory)
- Victim of a Hit and Run? 5 First Steps to Consider (FindLaw Injured)
- How to Challenge a Hit and Run Charge (FindLaw Blotter)