Hit-and-Run Victims Have Legal Options

Hit-and-run accidents are especially traumatic. A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that about 20 percent of vehicle accident fatalities involved hit-and-run drivers. Miss-and-runs, where a “phantom” driver causes a wreck but is not actually involved in it and then flees the scene unidentified, are also maddening. Many times, victims are left holding the bag when it comes to paying the damages (property and medical bills). But that doesn’t have to happen to you if you have the right insurance.

 

 

How Hit-and-Run Insurance Coverage Helps you

Before we go any further, we remind you that Kentucky state law requires all drivers to insure their vehicles. That means minimum bodily injury liability limits of $25,000 per injured person and up to $50,000 in combined medical expense coverage of all vehicle occupants and minimum property (vehicle) damage liability coverage of $10,000.

If you are a passenger in a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run collision, you would file as a third-party victim on the driver’s policy.  However, if they carry the minimums, you could be left with your medical bills and other damages not fully reimbursed. Kentucky requires basic Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage (up to $10,000 per person per accident) to cover medical expenses, lost wages and similar “out of pocket” costs due to injury of passengers.

If you are a pedestrian who is the victim of a hit-and-run, the PIP protection component of your own auto policy (if you have a vehicle) covers you. If the cost of your injuries exceeds your PIP coverage or you do not own a vehicle, then you can look to your standard individual health insurance policy to cover the medical bills, but not your pain and suffering or lost income.

This is the way most insurance coverage works in hit-and-runs. There can be other coverage means such as household insurance policies or health/life/auto policies which are taken out and paid for by parents, aunts/uncles, or grandparents that cover you as a family member; however, these policies are much less prevalent today than they were 15 or 20 years ago.

 

Try to Record as Many Details as Possible

Although it may be a challenge, try to record as much as possible while you’re still at the accident scene, such as:

 

  • A description of the other vehicle: make, model, and license plate number
  • A description of the driver
  • The time and location of the accident
  • The sequence of events surrounding the accident
  • Pictures of the accident scene, your vehicle and any property damage
  • Get a copy of the accident report filed by the police.

 

There may also be witnesses who saw the driver, vehicle, license plate, or the direction in which they fled after the accident. Ask for their names and contact information.

Cameras are also located at a growing number of roads and intersections. You should note any cameras (traffic or private security) that may be in the area for review by law enforcement and your attorney. These could reveal the identity of the hit-and-run driver and/or their vehicle as it fled the scene.

As much information as you can gather will be of great help in your being fairly reimbursed after you file your insurance claim

 

Dealing with Insurance Companies after a Hit-and-Run Accident

The difficulty with making an uninsured or third-party insurance claim on your or another driver's insurance policy is that all insurance carriers use adjusters to deny coverage or limit the amount they award. It’s a rather delicate situation, because you pay your premiums each month, but most insurance companies want to limit the damage award. Though they use many ways to deny coverage, the following are a few of their more common tricks:

 

  • Advising you to skip getting a lawyer or urging you to accept a settlement before you hire a lawyer – usually a “low-ball” offer
  • Asking you to give a recorded statement
  • Requesting you to provide written authorization for the adjuster to obtain your medical records
  • Misrepresenting the insurance coverage available to pay your claim
  • Disputing your damages and injuries or trying to attribute them to pre-existing conditions.

 

It will likely be in your best interests to retain a personal injury lawyer to represent you in any hit-and-run situation.

 

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