Generally, when people are injured by a negligent driver, they have a clear target to demand compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and/or damaged vehicle. However, if the driver flees the scene, then collecting damages could be a problematic proposition. Law enforcement has been hassling with ways to find hit-and-run drivers for ages but their efforts are mostly unsuccessful. N such a situation the following steps should be taken to ensure that the person who hurt you doesn’t escape their liabilities
- Get a license plate number if you can. A smartphone picture is usually best.
- Call the police and report the incident as a hit-and-run especially if there are injuries.
- Talk to witnesses before the police arrive and give their information to the police.
- When the police arrive, give them all the info and get the crash report when it’s available.
- Call your insurance company to report the accident.
If police are delayed or not available to take down a report, you should try your best to get the names, contact information, and as much detail as possible from any witnesses and try to write down your own description of the accident. A privately-owned security or traffic camera may have been positioned in the vicinity of the accident and thus have video of the accident and the driver who fled the scene. Take notice of any such cameras in the area for law enforcement and your attorney to review. For the victim of a hit-and-run, their auto insurance company is their best friend. In some states it is mandatory for drivers to carry Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage but in Texas UM/UIM is optional. It is advisable to carry as much as you can afford, but this coverage starts at 30/60/25 and is broken down into the following:
- UM/UIM bodily injury limits of $30,000 per injured person, and up to $60,000 in combined medical expense coverage of all vehicle occupants;
- UM/UIM property damage limits of $25,000.
If you can’t track down the hit-an-run driver, you can use your UM bodily injury and property damage coverage. If you are a passenger in a vehicle that is the victim of a hit-and-run, you can file a UM claim under the policy of your driver. However, if your driver carries the minimums, it’s likely you would be hard pressed to pay those bills out of your own pocket. Even worse, if your driver carries only liability insurance with no UM coverage then you are left without any coverage at all. A person’s own auto insurance policy might also be helpful in the event of a hit-and-run if they are carrying Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage.
PIP and MedPay protect victims of accidents regardless of who is at fault. PIP can pay medical expenses, lost wages, and similar out-of-pocket expenses due to an injury sustained as a passenger, up to the coverage limits of the policy. MedPay can help with medical expenses. UM, PIP, and MedPay may additionally cover any pedestrians who are hit by a driver who flees the scene of the accident. If the medical bills from being treated for your injuries exceed your coverage, then your health insurance can help you cover your medical bills but not pain and suffering or lost income.
If you have been the victim of a hit and run accident then it is imperative that you seek competent legal counsel such as Attorney Wail Sarieh to safeguard your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.