Hit-and-Run Victim? Here's What To Do

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This past weekend was a bad one for fatal hit-and-run collisions.

 

Last Friday, a mother of seven was hit and killed by a car as she ran across the street near Elmhurst United Middle School. Authorities recovered the car, but they have not found the driver.

 

Early Sunday morning, a 42-year-old woman died at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Macarthur Blvd. The driver that hit her vehicle and his two passengers fled the scene on foot. They haven't been found.

 

Hit and runs are on the rise nationally and in California. In 2016, 369 people died in hit-and-run collisions--the highest number in 25 years. Sadly, many hit-and-run cases remain unsolved.

 

If you're in an accident with a vehicle that leaves the scene, you may still be able to file a personal injury claim, but you'll have to act fast.

 

• First, report the accident to the police ASAP. Immediately after the accident, look around for witnesses--they have a tendency to vanish--and get their phone numbers. Witnesses are important allies when you're trying to locate the vehicle.

• Give all the information you have about the accident, the vehicle, and witnesses, to the police. They will make every attempt to recover the vehicle. The District Attorney's office may also press criminal charges against the driver if the authorities find that person.

 

• If they find the vehicle that hit you, and the vehicle is insured, you can proceed with a personal injury case as normal, seeking compensation for injuries, property damage, pain and suffering and other claims.

 

• If the vehicle is uninsured, you can file a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage through your auto insurance policy. Uninsured motorist property damage coverage will help cover repairs. You do have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage don't you? If not, you should.

 

• Auto insurers have been known to deny reasonable claims, find loopholes to get out of paying what you're entitled or delaying the whole process. When any of these things happen, you may need to hire a personal injury lawyer.

 

• To file a personal injury claim against your auto insurer following a hit-and-run, the uninsured vehicle has to either make physical contact with your vehicle OR you must be able to identify the vehicle, usually with the license plate number.

 

• If you're unable to settle the claim with your insurance company, you have to go into binding arbitration. You don't get a jury trial. If your insurance company pays some of your medical bills from your medical payments coverage, they get credit for whatever they have paid.

 

• For example, if your case is worth $10,000 and your insurance company paid $2,000 in medical bills, you would be entitled to $8,000 "new money."  If however, you have $15,000 in uninsured motorist coverage and your case is worth $25,000 and your insurance company paid medical expenses of $5,000, then the $5,000 comes off the value so that $25,000 becomes $20,000.  Since your limits are only $15,000, you are entitled to the entire $15,000.

 

• For these reasons always make sure your uninsured motorist limits are equal to your liability limits. Keep them as high as you can.

 

If you've been injured by a hit-and-run driver, you're probably stuck with a lot of pain, anger and medical bills. To ensure your insurer (or the insurer or the hit-and-run driver, if you find them) compensates you properly, hire an experienced personal injury lawyer.

 

Call our office for a free consultation.

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
2201 Broadway
Penthouse 1
Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: 510-431-2598
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