How to Recover Damages After a Hit and Run
Hit and run drivers may be one of the scourges of the earth. These drivers violate the law in addition to leaving their victims stranded, injured and confused. Injured victims are left wondering if there is any hope for help when it comes to paying their mounting medical bills. Worries intensify when victims are unable to work due to their injuries and are losing wages at the same time they also have a vehicle that needs repair or to be replaced.
If this has happened to you, you may hope your health insurance will pay for your medical treatment, but even if this works for you, you will still have mounting copays, deductibles and subrogation that will come out of your pocket. You need to contact a personal injury attorney who can review your auto insurance policy and your family members’ policies to determine if there is an avenue open to you for receiving compensation for your injuries.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Is “Necessary”
Georgia law does not require you to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage; however, you must be offered it and can only refuse the coverage if you do so in writing. The type of UM coverage you select will either be “add-on” or “reduced” coverage.
If you were injured by a hit and run driver, either in your own vehicle, another vehicle or as a pedestrian, your uninsured motorist coverage will trigger. Your insurance company will “step-in-the-shoes” of the hit and run driver and provide coverage as if they represented the at-fault driver. If you do not have UM coverage then you will be solely responsible for your medical bills, lost wages and any other expenses related to your car wreck.
What If I’m Injured By a Hit and Run Driver?
Follow these 10 steps if you are hit by a driver who then flees.
- First, pull over and be sure that you and everyone in your car is at least temporarily okay. If emergency medical treatment is necessary, do not wait. Getting prompt treatment is a priority.
- Do not try to chase the vehicle that hit you.
- Call the police immediately. They may be able to locate the driver, but at a minimum, they will prepare an accident report.
- Write down as much about the accident as you can. Describe the involved car in as much detail as you remember. Write down the license plate number if you were lucky enough to be able to see it. Do not chase the car in an attempt to get this information.
- Note the exact time of the accident in addition to the date.
- Describe the location and include any relevant information about the surrounding area. For example, if there was any debris on the road or if the road signals were not working, include that in your description.
- Describe the sequence of events and how the accident happened. Report where your car was when the accident happened, from what direction the hit and run driver was coming from and which direction did he or she go when fleeing the scene.
- Get names and statements from any eyewitnesses.
- Take photos and video of the scene, your car and injuries sustained.
- Retain an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you pursue your claim.
One thing many may think is missing from this list is the task of calling your insurance company to report the claim. As we have stated many times before in other blog articles, under no circumstances should you contact any insurance company regarding the motor vehicle collision. Let an experienced personal injury attorney navigate the insurance claims process for you, to ensure that you don’t say anything that may hurt your potential claim.
How An Attorney Can Help
Filing an insurance claim following a hit and run is complicated and hard to navigate. Due to an inordinate amount of fraud related to hit and run claim, the insurance companies often look with skepticism at these uninsured motorist claims. Thus, you should not report the claim on your own to save time or see if you can handle the claims process yourself. Everything you say is recorded and will be used against you, if possible.
An attorney with experience in hit and run accidents and filing UM claims will know how to proceed. The attorney will obtain the police reports, witness statements, photographs, video, etc. if you were unable to do so due to your injuries.
An attorney will also be able to review you and your family members’ UM coverage to determine how many different policies are available. The mission is always to find any and all avenues of compensation for you, even if the at-fault driver is never found.
If the driver is eventually located, you may file a lawsuit to collect for damages that were not covered by your own UM coverage. When hit and run drivers are located, they can also be sued for punitive damages, which are for the purpose of punishing the wrongdoer.
At Georgia Trial Attorneys, we have the experience and commitment you need to pursue your UM and Hit & Run claims. Contact us as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.