If you have a hit and run accident, you can file a claim with your auto insurance company. It’s a good idea to know what’s covered before you have to make a hit and run insurance claim. There are different types of coverage included in any insurance policy. There are also a number of features that define a hit and run.
What Is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run is loosely defined as leaving the scene after a collision with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or another object. Different states have some variations in their definition. For example, some states include collisions with animals as a hit and run.
In this age of cell phone use for everything, leaving the scene long enough to get a signal isn’t usually considered hit and run. If you go to call for help and then return, you’re okay.
You don’t usually have to be on a public road or highway when the incident occurs. In many states, hitting an empty vehicle in a parking lot and failing to leave a note is considered a hit and run.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
Never leave the scene of an accident whether you caused it or if it was the fault of another driver. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident; only whether you left. If you do, you could end up facing criminal charges. These charges vary by state.
Leaving the scene of an accident means you aren’t providing information that could hold you and your insurance company accountable. It could also make the difference in whether someone who is injured gets the medical treatment they need. If you are the at-fault driver, you are liable for their medical treatment and the damages to their property. Failing to get proper medical care could also result in a greater level of harm or even death.
If you or someone else is injured, your primary obligation is to get medical help. If you have reception, call 911. If you don’t, only go as far as necessary to get a signal. If you aren’t able to leave to make the call, ask a passerby to call for help.
When the person who strikes you or your vehicle leaves the scene, it leaves you in a complicated situation. Never pursue the other vehicle. This could end up causing another accident. It could also put you in danger if you encounter the hit and run driver.
Criminal Penalties for Hit and Run
Just as the laws regarding hit and runs vary by state, so do the penalties. In most, they are treated as a criminal offense. Depending on the circumstances, the driver might be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. Often, when the hit and run driver leaves the scene where there is an injury of any type, it is considered a felony. This is a severe charge and can lead to fines of $5,000 to $20,000, along with potential jail time. Some states punish felony hit and run drivers with up to fifteen years in prison. That’s a stiff price to pay because you’re worried someone will file a hit and run insurance claim against you.
Being charged with a misdemeanor isn’t as severe but the penalties are still significant. You can expect to pay a fine of up to $5,000 and to serve up to one year in jail. In addition to these penalties, most states also impose a temporary suspension or lifetime revocation of your driver’s license. Also, if you are to blame for the crash, the injured party can sue you for damages. If you leave the scene of an accident and someone dies, you could also be sued for wrongful death.
Remember, a hit and run doesn’t always involve a second driver in a vehicle. The victim can be a pedestrian, a parked car, or even a stationary item like your mailbox.
When You Are the Victim of a Hit and Run
When a driver hits you or your vehicle, you need to report the incident to law enforcement. Have them create a record of the damage and anything you know about the runaway driver. If you have injuries, make sure the treating physician knows that they came from a hit and run. Confirm that they document everything in your medical records.
If you have injuries, contact your insurance company to make a hit and run insurance claim. Depending on your specific policy, it might cover your injuries under your collision coverage, uninsured motorists bodily injury coverage, or uninsured motorist property damage coverage.
The number of hit and run accidents and fatalities is on the rise. One of the biggest concerns associated with them is the impact on the severity of outcomes due to the lack of immediate medical response. Another is the percentage of accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists. These accidents are more likely to be fatal due to the exposure these people have in comparison to a passenger in a vehicle. With an average of 682,000 hit and run accidents annually, nearly 65% of fatalities involve pedestrians or bicyclists.
The best way to prevent hit and run accidents is to stop the accidents from occurring in the first place. Drivers need to be more aware of pedestrians and bicyclists on or near the road. Children are especially unpredictable, and they can dart out in front of you at any time.
If you walk, run, or bike, you can help protect yourself, too. Never assume that drivers will obey traffic signs or that they know bicycle laws. Make sure the car coming from the other direction is going to stop before you go through the intersection.
Of course, there’s no fool-proof way to prevent accidents from happening. Another way that bicyclists are protecting themselves from the impact of collisions is with biking insurance. This increases your options for paying medical bills and damages if you become seriously injured in a hit and run.
Breaking Down Your Insurance Policy
The best approach is to ‘err on the side of caution’ and learn what types of protection you have against a hit and run before you need it. Hit and runs aren’t as rare as you might think. If you don’t have adequate coverage, the time to get it is before you become a victim.
Liability coverage pays medical bills, property damage, and other costs when you injure someone else or damage their property. Most states require liability coverage but the amount varies from state to state. If liability coverage appears on your insurance policy, it should state the per person limit for bodily injury/per incident limit for bodily injury/property damage limit. That means a policy with liability coverage of 100/300/100 will pay up to $100,000 for bodily injury for one person. It will pay up to $300,000 for bodily injury in a single accident, and up to $100,000 for property damage.
If you file a hit and run insurance claim, your liability won’t cover your medical expenses or car repairs. Liability insurance is to pay for someone else’s expenses when you cause an accident. When another driver hits you, their liability usually pays for damages to your car. When the driver flees the scene, you can’t collect from their insurance company. You can’t file for damages on your own liability insurance either.
Most drivers who have their vehicles financed must carry full-coverage insurance. Those who drive older cars sometimes drop the full coverage and carry only the liability insurance as required by law. This protects them from paying for another person’s property damage if they cause a crash. It doesn’t help them when they are a victim of a hit and run.
Some types of car insurance can. Check with your insurance company to learn your options for adding protection from a hit and run driver. Paying somewhat higher premiums can save you money when you need medical treatment and a car to drive to work.
Collision coverage pays you when your vehicle gets damaged from a crash regardless of who is at fault. Even if the driver in a hit and run is never found, you may be able to get your vehicle repairs paid for. In this case, be prepared to pay your policy deductible, even if the accident wasn’t your fault.
– Uninsured Motorists Bodily injury
Uninsured Motorists Bodily Injury provides coverage for medical bills and lost wages when you are hit by an uninsured driver. Sometimes this coverage extends to hit and run accidents. If you’re covered, you don’t usually have to pay a deductible.
– Uninsured Motorists Property Damage
This coverage is to pay for property damage, especially for car repairs if yours is damaged. Sometimes it helps pay for damage caused by hit and run drivers. You need to check with your insurance company to find out if it is available in your state. If it is, find out if it covers hit and run accidents. If you already have Uninsured Motorists Property Damage listed on your policy, ask your insurance agent what is covered. Also, see if there is a deductible. You may want to change the deductible, if possible, or get different coverage to compensate if it doesn’t cover hit and run accidents.
– Medical Payments Coverage
This coverage is good to have, especially if you often drive with passengers in your vehicle. It pays for your medical bills and those of your passengers regardless of fault. Like some other types of coverage, this option isn’t available in every state. Those who offer it don’t usually apply a deductible.
– Personal Injury Protection
This coverage is also called PIP or “No-Fault Insurance” because it pays your medical bills and those of your passengers regardless of fault. Sometimes PIP insurance pays for lost wages or child care if your injuries prevent you from working or caring for your children. The coverage varies among states; it may be anything from unavailable to mandatory. The deductible also varies by state.
What Else You Need to Know About Filing a Hit and Run Insurance Claim
A deductible is the amount you have to pay before the insurance kicks in. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and your damages are $1,000, you have to pay the first $500 before the insurance company pays the remaining $500.
Most insurance companies allow you to choose your deductible. If you choose one that is lower, you can expect your monthly premiums to be higher. Raising the deductible amount reduces the amount you pay for premiums. You should consider how much you can afford to pay out-of-pocket if an accident happens.
Even though your insurance coverage includes hit and runs, filing a claim might cause your insurance premiums to go up. Filing claims more frequently is more likely to have a significant impact on how much you pay for insurance.
Why They Run
Fleeing after an accident is quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception. But what causes drivers to flee when someone is seriously injured? Most don’t take time to think about the possible consequences of staying versus running away. If they lack empathy for the injured person, they know they have a good chance of getting away and, in their minds, nothing to lose.
If you hit someone and stay to ensure they get help, the worst that will happen is a personal injury lawsuit. That is, unless you deliberately run someone down! The difference in running is that you could end up paying a much higher financial price and spend some time in jail!
Unfortunately, hit and run accidents happen all the time. The fleeing driver often gets away with it, and you never have the chance to hold them accountable. The next best thing is to cover yourself by getting insurance that protects you in any scenario.
If you have been injured by a hit and run driver, contact Krasney Law today. If the police have identified the driver who hit you or your insurance company isn’t coopering, we can help. Call us to schedule a free consultation. If you don’t collect, you don’t pay anything!