You’ve had a long day at work, or maybe an enjoyable night out with the family, and now you’re driving home. Waiting for the light to turn green, you’re suddenly slammed from behind by another vehicle. Shocked, distressed, and worried for you and your family’s safety, you look in time to see the other vehicle drive off. You’ve been the victim of a hit and run accident. Now what?
Fleeing the scene of a motor vehicle accident is illegal, and could result in a felony charge if someone gets hurt. While the criminal justice system pursues hit and run drivers, you can also seek civil damages. Of course, there are many cases where the driver cannot be located, so you’ll have to deal with your insurance company to get the compensation you need. No matter the circumstances, having the right personal injury attorney will make all the difference. Turn to Cooper Schall & Levy.
Causes Of A Hit And Run Accident
If you’re the victim of a hit and run accident, your main concerns are getting better and getting justice for what happened to you. It’s important to understand why exactly the accident occurred. This will go a long way in establishing key facts in the case and holding the at-fault driver liable. Some of the most common reasons that hit and run accidents happen are:
- Distracted driving
- A driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- An unlicensed or uninsured driver
- The driver is fleeing from another crime
- Inexperience or unfamiliarity with a particular part of town
It is highly unlikely for there to be a valid reason for someone to flee the scene of an accident. Pennsylvania law requires a driver involved in an accident to stop and exchange information, such as the name of his or her insurer. The driver should also remain at the scene in order to help the police prepare an accident report. Medical assistance must also be called if there’s reason to suspect someone is injured. Fleeing the scene, or leaving before the police arrive, could have serious criminal repercussions.
What Should You Do If The Other Driver Leaves?
Your first priority, regardless of what the other driver does, is to get medical attention for you and any passengers. The next steps you take will be critical in tracking down the driver and holding him or her liable:
- Call the police and make a report, providing all of the details you know about the other driver and his or her vehicle
- Make a note of basic facts surrounding the accident such as the time, date, location, and weather conditions
- If there are witnesses, speak to them immediately to find out what they saw and to get their contact information for later
- If there are any businesses in the vicinity of the accident, you may be able to obtain surveillance footage from security cameras
- Do not try to follow the driver, who could be dangerous
- If you are able, take a picture or video of the other vehicle and do the same for your vehicle and the accident scene
What Should I Do If The Hit and Run Driver Can’t Be Located?
Likely the only resource you will have if the driver can’t be found is to turn to your insurance policy. You should have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, which exists for this very reason. Depending on your UM policy, you may have coverage for medical expenses, missed time from work, and other losses.
You will be required to prove, among other things, that you were involved in an accident in which the driver fled the scene. On top of that, you will need to demonstrate the extent of your damages. Insurance companies are known for denying hit and run claims, and for trying to settle with victims for far less than their accidents are worth. Before you deal with the insurance company, let us review your policy and advise you of your options.
The Driver Was Located; What Are My Options?
Although far too many hit and run drivers evade the law, many are caught and forced to face the consequences of their actions. Regardless of what happens in criminal court, however, you need to consider civil action.
As mentioned above, drivers often leave accidents because they do not have insurance (or because they have inadequate coverage). Assuming the at-fault driver is insured, however, your attorney will demand the insurance company cover your damages. It’s important to let your lawyer handle negotiations with the insurer. If those settlement talks fall through, you’ll need to go to court.
If you go to court – either because the insurance company’s offer is insufficient or because the driver is uninsured – it will be up to you to establish the elements of a negligence claim. Those elements are:
- The driver owed you a duty of care
- The duty was breached by some act of negligence
- You, the victim, were harmed because of this breach
- The breach caused you to suffer damages
Many victims assume that the driver’s leaving the scene of an accident automatically establishes fault. While it’s tempting to rely on this assumption, it is not necessarily the case. An experienced accident attorney understands that you never take any part of a negligence claim for granted. The same is true with respect to your injuries. You will need to thoroughly document them, with an eye towards future expenses for treatment, lost work, reduced earning capacity, and more.
Contact A Philadelphia Hit And Run Accident Attorney Today
If you’re the victim of a hit and run accident, you are likely scared and confused about what happens next. Who pays your hospital bills? What do you do about missed time from work? Will you get the justice you deserve?
Let the dedicated and compassionate accident attorneys of Cooper Schall & Levy answer those questions. Contact us today to discuss your case.