After an accident, you usually swap insurance information with the other driver/s. The investigation goes on and insurance companies pay for medical bills, repairs or replacement of damaged vehicles, and other property damage. In a hit and run accident, you have no idea who the other driver is. What do you do then?
If You’re Injured Seek Medical Care
With any car accident, take care of yourself first. If you’re injured, seek immediate medical attention. Don’t put off seeing a doctor because you fear the medical bills will be too high. That’s what you have car insurance for. You could have head injuries that aren’t apparent now but will be in a few hours. You could have internal bleeding.
Let others call an ambulance for you. The paramedics will advise you if you should go to the hospital or if you’re okay to be released at the scene. You will need someone to drive you home from the hospital or the scene. Start making calls as soon as you know where you’ll be.
Call the Police
Make sure someone calls the police. Fill out an accident report. The police have the authority to look at other drivers’ or area businesses’ video footage. If there is footage of the crash, they can use the footage to track where the car headed. That footage also gives them the car’s make and model. They may be able to get a license plate to determine who owns the car and who was driving. If they can track the car down, the owner or another driver could be charged with leaving the scene of the accident.
In most cases, your car insurance pays. If the other driver is found and was the driver, their insurance would be responsible in an at-fault state. California is an at-fault state, so the other driver’s insurance would pay for your medical bills, damages to your car, loss of work, and any additional property damage.
There are exceptions to this rule. These are some of the things that can change whether or not your insurance company would have to pay for the hit and run accident.
If the other driver loaned his or her car to a friend and the friend caused the hit and run accident, the vehicle owner’s insurance would cover your medical bills, car repairs/replacement, and lost wages. As long as the driver had permission to use the car, the car’s owner is responsible.
There is an exception. If the other driver reported his/her car stolen, their insurance is not liable for damages caused when a car was stolen. You could sue, but if they can prove the car was stolen, you wouldn’t get far.
What if the car’s owner was at a gas station and left the keys in the car and the doors unlocked while he/she went in to pay. If that careless behavior led to the car being stolen, is the car’s owner still blameless? If the owner was careless and opted to leave the key fob in the car with the car running and the doors unlocked, you could have an argument that the owner invited the thief to take the car.
If the driver is not found, your car insurance covers the cost. Your policy would replace your car, pay your medical bills, and cover time out of work and other property damages.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When you purchase car insurance, part of your policy is uninsured motorist coverage. If the other driver has no insurance or you’re in a hit and run accident, this part of your policy covers the damages. You will need to provide proof that it was a hit and run. That’s why it’s important for you to make sure a police report is made. Photos of your vehicle, copies of your medical bills, and an inventoried list of things damaged in the crash are important.
Personal Injury Protection coverage takes care of your medical expenses and any time you have to take off work. You may also have collision on your auto insurance policy. This may help you recoup some of the cost of repairing or replacing your car. You’d need to talk to your insurance agent to find out what your coverage is and how it would be best to file a hit and run claim without making your insurance rates increase too drastically if you don’t have accident forgiveness as part of your policy.
All of this can be confusing. You’re without a car for a while, and now you have to wait to see if the hit and run driver or car owner can be located. Meanwhile, you’re racking up bills and have no idea how you’ll cover them. That’s why it’s important to seek legal advice. An expert in hit and run cases can walk you through your legal options.
You have questions and Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley has answers. Our legal team has won several awards and is the law firm other lawyers turn to when they feel a case is too challenging. Give CZR Law a call or access live chat for a free legal consultation.