Hit-and-run accidents are on the rise in our country and cause numerous catastrophic injuries and deaths. In a November 2013 article, USA Today calls hit-and-run accidents a “plague” that has risen in epidemic proportions in cities around America. Nearly 1,500 people were killed in 2011 as a result of hit-and-run accidents, reports USA Today.
If you were hit by a driver who fled the scene, you can recover compensation via your own insurance policy. If you find the driver, you may be able to file a tort claim depending on the circumstances.
Reasons Drivers Flee the Scene
Fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal. Drivers who are involved in an accident and flee without speaking with the other driver, leaving a note or calling the authorities are acting unlawfully and could face criminal charges if caught.
If convicted of a hit and run, the defendant may face fines, loss of driving privileges and imprisonment. Given the severity of punishment for fleeing the scene of an accident, why are hit-and-run accidents so commonplace?
Essentially, it’s because the drivers have something to hide and are fearful of the repercussions of their actions. University of Vermont Department of Economics Chairwoman Sara Solnick, who has studied hit-and-run crashes, explains via USA Today, "Drivers are more likely to run if they feel there is a reason to do so. They're more likely to have high blood-alcohol content, or they're driving without a license, or they're very young drivers."
How can victims in Pennsylvania recover damages from hit-and-run accidents?
If the hit-and-run driver turns himself or herself into the police or is caught, he or she will be apprehended and undergo a criminal proceeding. Victims may file a tort liability claim against a hit-and-run driver. They may pursue pain and suffering damages if they have full tort coverage or if they have limited tort and suffered serious injury. Other damages that accident victims may pursue include:
- medical bills and future medical treatments.
- lost wages.
- property damage.
- and, funeral expenses.
If the hit-and-run driver has insurance, then his or her insurance company will pay for your damages up to the driver's policy limit. If your damages exceed the hit-and-run driver’s limit or if he or she doesn't have insurance, you may file a claim with your own insurance company using your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage if you have such coverage. Your medical payments coverage can help handle medical bills as well.
What if the hit-and-run driver cannot be located?
If the driver cannot be located, you’ll need to file a claim with your own insurer. Property damage to your vehicle is covered under your collision coverage if you have it. Other damages from hit-and-run accidents, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, are generally recoverable under your UM coverage. Keep in mind that Pennsylvania requires all drivers carry medical payments of $5,000, which pays for medical bills up to the coverage limits.
You can check your policy plan to determine what your insurance covers, and then speak with an accident attorney to help go over your legal options for obtaining restitution.
Hire a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer to Handle Your Case
If you or a loved one were injured in a hit-and-run accident, consult a lawyer to determine what legal opportunities you have available. Your attorney can help with the investigation process, explain your rights, and help file the necessary paperwork with the insurer and the courts.
For legal counsel, call Cordisco & Saile LLC to schedule an initial consultation. We can assess your accident and explain the best way to move forward to pursue a financial settlement. Contact us at 215-642-2335 to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation today.