Any car accident is a shocking and upsetting experience, but when the other driver flees the scene and leaves you behind to cope with the aftermath, it is especially difficult. Unfortunately, California consistently ranks at or near the top in the nation regarding fatal hit and run accidents every year.
If you experience a hit and run accident, what kind of claims can you make to your insurance company? Is it possible for you to pursue damages and compensation directly? It’s vital to understand the facts surrounding this complex type of accident scenario and your steps if you experience it yourself. Here’s what you should know.
Know What Your Insurance Policy Says
Unfortunately, in most cases, you will need to rely on your own insurance policy — and pay your deductible — when you’ve experienced a hit and run accident. While the at-fault party’s insurance would typically face a requirement to pay for your property damage and injuries, that’s not possible if the at-fault party successfully fled the scene.
You should know whether or not you have uninsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage on your policy. UIM coverage comes into play even in these scenarios and can help offset some of your incurred damages.
What If You Identify the Other Driver?
Sometimes, the fleeing driver may return to the scene later, or police may have the opportunity to track them down successfully. In such cases, the driver will face criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident. You may also be able to make a civil claim against the driver if you know their identity and actions constitute clear negligence. In other words, they could be held wholly or primarily responsible for your injuries. You can then seek compensatory and punitive damages in court if you cannot reach a settlement.
Of course, when you know who the driver is, it also makes it more likely that you can recover a better settlement from their insurance company. However, expect a battle — insurers may be reluctant to pay out these types of claims. As a result, you should consider connecting with an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate these challenging negotiations.
Take These Steps Immediately After a Hit and Run Accident
Call the police immediately. Do not attempt to pursue a fleeing driver. Involving the authorities as soon as possible increases the chance of locating the responsible driver, making your situation much less complex. If the accident injured you, call for medical assistance as well.
Ask others to help you gather evidence at the scene, such as photographs and any wreckage from the car that hit your vehicle. When able, contact a personal injury attorney in San Diego. Things can move very swiftly in the aftermath of a hit and run and protecting your legal rights won’t be at the top of your mind when you’re dealing with property loss and potential injuries.
Speak To an Attorney About Your Case Today
Determining your next steps after a hit and run accident is rarely easy and can often leave you feeling alone and confused. When you aren’t sure if you could improve the value of your settlement offer or if you’d like to explore your options for taking additional action fully, the right team of car accident attorneys makes a difference. At HHJ Trial Attorneys, we are compassionate, experienced, and dedicated to securing better outcomes for our clients every step of the way. To book a consultation with our team today, please call or email us now.
Testimonial from Stephen, Car Accident Victim
Adam Hepburn and HHJ Trial Attorneys are very professional and compassionate in a time my wife and I needed them most. Adam helped me with my personal injury case from a car accident last year. I was referred to Adam by a friend and was immediately provided with a feeling of relief as he made everything seem so clear and understandable. His communication on when and what I needed to do was reassuring as my wife and I had never had to deal with anything like that before.