A hit-and-run can be stressful, whether you walked out to your car one morning and saw a huge dent in the fender, someone sideswiped your car while switching lanes and did not stop, or a driver who was clearly at fault caused an accident but left the scene. If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run, there are things you will need to know before calling your insurance company.
I was once involved in a multi-car accident that was caused by someone who fled the scene. The drivers of the first two cars in the chain reaction of rear-end collisions also drove away. That left me and the man who rear-ended me, who I had to call an ambulance for.
When the police arrived, they questioned me extensively, since there was no one else left to ask. They also briefly tried to blame me, since there was also no one else left to assume liability. If I’d known then what I know now, the first thing I would have done after I called 911 was take pictures of the other cars before they drove away. It would have made getting an insurance settlement much easier.
This guide to insurance coverage after a hit and run will also make getting a settlement easier. Understanding your options will allow you to make sure you have the coverage you need before you need it.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is designed to cover damages or injuries if the other driver did not have enough coverage or had no coverage at all. Uninsured motorist coverage will pay for damages to your vehicle as well as medical costs if you are injured in the accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage is not automatic in all states. It may be an additional coverage you need to add to your insurance policy. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your damages should be covered under your policy.
Collision insurance, also called comprehensive insurance in some areas, covers damages to your car if you hit a stationary object, someone hits your parked car or if you were involved in a hit-and-run. Normally, after an accident, the other driver will stop and the two of you exchange information so that you can file claims against the insurance of the person at fault.
When the other driver leaves the scene, however, you will have no option but to go to your insurance company to cover the cost of damages. Your insurance company may want some information, however. If possible, get information about the car, including make, model, color and license plate. Call the police and file a report.
When you find yourself the victim of a hit and run accident, staying at the scene while waiting for police to arrive is critical. You will also want to take photos of the damage. Keep in mind that you may have a deductible so you will need to determine if repairs will be more than the deductible. If not, you might want to just pay for the repairs on your own.
Injuries After Hit-and-Run
If you are injured after a hit-and-run accident, personal injury protection (PIP) pays for medical expenses and lost wages. You can make a claim for injuries on your own policy but there are instances where doing so could raise your rates. PIP does not cover any damage to your vehicle, and you will not be able to claim things like emotional distress or pain and suffering.
Often, PIP limits on your own policy are much lower than they are under your liability coverage. Although some states do not require you to have PIP, which means you will need to add it to your policy, in no-fault insurance states, the coverage may be required on all auto policies.
Talk to an Attorney
The best thing to do if you are involved in a hit-and-run is to talk to an attorney. Should the police locate the person who caused the hit-and-run, you may be facing court hearings and trials. Having an attorney to advise you throughout the process is highly recommended as hit-and-run accidents can be complicated, stressful, and confusing.