by Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer, Tim O’Hare
It is unfortunate anytime someone is injured in a car accident, but in a hit-and-run accident where the driver at fault fled the scene, understanding how to move forward and receive compensation for your injury, medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering can be confusing and complicated.
Why do drivers hit-and-run?
There are many reasons a driver may make the decision to flee the scene of an accident, but the decision is always a selfish one, putting his or her own interests above those of others. Sadly, hit-and-run accidents occur more frequently than you might think. In 2015, there were an estimated 737,100 hit-and-run crashes in the U.S. In 2016, more than 2,000 people were killed in hit-and-run crashes, the highest number ever recorded, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Some common reasons drivers may run from an accident include:
- The driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DWI)
- The driver is in possession of illegal substances
- The driver does not carry liability insurance
- They are driving a car that is borrowed or stolen
- They are driving a company car and don’t want their employer to know
- They are driving on a suspended licence or without a license
- The driver already has multiple traffic tickets on his or her record
- The driver has outstanding arrest warrants
- The driver is in the country illegally
What do I do if I am in a hit-and-run accident?
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, it is important to take all the right steps immediately following the accident in order to protect any future injury and property damage claims. If you are in a hit-and-run accident, remember these tips:
- Do not leave the scene. Do not attempt to chase down the hit-and-run driver. Not only is it dangerous, but you may hurt your injury case by creating doubt about what happened.
- Call 911 to report the accident. If you or someone else is injured, be sure to let the dispatcher know so they can send help immediately.
- Write down every detail you can remember. Do your best to remember whatever you can about the car and driver who caused the accident. Don’t leave anything out. Even the smallest details can be helpful in building your case. Be sure to include any information about what direction the car was traveling as it left the scene.
- Seek medical attention. Do not refuse medical attention at the scene of the accident. You may have internal injuries and not know it. The initial adrenaline rush from the shock of the accident can also mask symptoms. Even if you do not go directly to a hospital, be sure to see a doctor on the same day for a full medical evaluation, and share every symptom with the medical provider, no matter how minor.
- Find witnesses. Any witnesses to the accident may help track down the driver who caused the wreck. Ask nearby business owners to check security cameras and knock on doors to seek anyone who may have seen the accident.
- Take pictures to document the accident. If you are able, snap pictures with your cell phone of your damaged vehicle and the area around the collision.
- Call the injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare at 972-960-0000 to determine your next steps.
Who will cover property damage and medical bills after a hit-and-run accident?
If the driver who caused the accident cannot be identified, the victim of the hit-and-run accident may have no choice but to file an insurance claim with their own insurance company, even if the accident was no fault of their own. It is important to understand your insurance coverage to know what compensation is available.
Your own liability insurance will not pay for your injuries or damages from a hit-and-run accident. Collision coverage will pay for property damage to your vehicle, no matter who was at fault. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will help cover the cost of medical bills for you and your passenger, up to the available limits.
Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is designed to cover situations where the driver at-fault either doesn’t have enough insurance coverage, does not have insurance at all, or the driver cannot be identified.
Texas laws require all drivers to carry liability insurance to cover the costs of any accident they may cause, and there is a penalty for drivers who are found without insurance. Still, many drivers in Texas fail to maintain proper insurance — and in the case of a hit-and-run accident, you may never know if the driver who caused your wreck and subsequent injuries had insurance at all.
Because not all drivers carry liability insurance, the Texas Insurance Code mandates that all insurance companies doing business in Texas offer uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Drivers who do not wish to pay for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage must notify their insurance company in writing. If your insurance company cannot produce a rejection you signed, they must provide the minimum coverage, which is currently $30,000/$60,000 in Texas.
Uninsured motorist: An uninsured motorist is a driver who does not carry liability insurance, or an unidentified “hit-and-run” driver.
Underinsured motorist: An underinsured motorist is a driver who carries liability insurance within the limits required by law, but it is not enough to cover the actual costs of damages and potential medical expenses that may result from a car accident.
Do I need to call a car accident lawyer?
Hit-and-run accidents are frustrating and often leave the victim with few options. Even if you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company may deny your claim. They will definitely look out for their own interests, not yours. An experienced Dallas personal injury lawyer will fight your insurance company to ensure you receive all due compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
The personal injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare are knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with uninsured and underinsured motorist cases. We understand just how difficult it can be dealing with insurance companies, and we know how important it is for you to be able to focus on your recovery. Our attorneys will fight on your behalf to make sure you get the financial recovery you deserve from your hit-and-run car accident.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a hit-and-run accident, or if you have tragically lost a loved one in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, contact the experienced accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare.
Call The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare for your FREE Case Evaluation 972-960-0000 or Toll-Free 888-960-0020