For the past several years, the number of annually reported hit and run crashes have been increasing across the United States. Fatalities from hit and run crashes have also increased, even though the overall number of deaths from automobile accidents has decreased slightly. This can likely be attributed to a combination of safer cars and less safer drivers. The technological advancements in our cars may help protect those of us inside, but the technology in our pockets can endanger everyone around us. Look quick, someone just tagged you on Twitter! The dangers of texting and driving are undeniable, plus many hit and run accidents involve pedestrians and cyclists. Unfortunately, advancements in vehicle safety do nothing to help these poor souls. If you’ve been hurt or suffered losses from a hit and run accident, you may be wondering what you can do to get compensation for your injuries. Contact the personal injury lawyers at The Doyle Law Offices today to find your what your legal options are.
Who is Liable in a Hit and Run?Legally speaking, the negligent driver is liable of course, but what makes your accident a hit and run by definition is the fact the other driver drove away and escaped. All too often, the other driver will never be found. The good news is, in North Carolina all drivers are required to have uninsured motorist coverage. An accident with a hit and run or “John Doe” driver is treated much the same as an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. In this situation, your own insurance will cover the expenses that the uninsured driver should have covered. The minimum liability coverage limits are:
- $30,000 for bodily injury liability, per person per accident.
- $60,000 of bodily injury liability total per accident.
- $25,000 of property damage liability, per accident.
Steps to Take After a Hit and RunWith the adrenaline pumping through your veins in the immediate aftermath of an accident, your ability to make sound decisions might be a little compromised. However, in order for you to have the greatest chance of receiving fair compensation for your losses, it would be advisable to take the following steps:
- Make sure you and everyone else you are with is safe. Get out of the road and out of harm’s way.
- Call the police. Report that the accident occurred and the other driver fled the scene. North Carolina law requires that victims of hit and run report the incident within 24 hours or as soon as practicable. How soon is practicable? It depends on the circumstances. Don’t push it. Sooner is better.
- Seek medical attention right away. If you are badly hurt, this is obvious. If you might only have a slight injury, it is still very important. Many people try to avoid medical treatment for a number of reasons. Some people may just be the type to tough it out, and others may simply be trying to avoid a doctor’s bill. However, if your injury rears its head later on down the road (like many soft tissue injuries), it may be harder to link your medical bills directly to the accident if you go to the doctor days or weeks later. When push comes to shove, you’ll realize how important it is to have a solid paper trail of your medical attention.
- Search for witnesses. On a busy highway, with nothing around you but cars whizzing by, there might not be much you can do. However, if there are still people around who may have seen the accident, ask them if they can tell you any details about the crash or about the other vehicle. Also, be sure to get their name and phone number, should you or your lawyer need to contact them again.
- Look for video cameras. Traffic cameras are extremely commonplace these days, as are security cameras on places of business. There is a legitimate chance that a camera somewhere recorded the incident.
- Take pictures of your vehicle, yourself, and the vicinity. Again, what we are doing here is establishing a concrete trail of evidence. There may be skid marks, there may be paint on your car, or you might have a clearly visible injury. All these things are temporary. The skid marks will fade, your car might get fixed or taken away, and your injuries will heal. Without pictures, there may be no evidence these things ever existed.
- Contact an attorney. The next step will be telling your story to your insurance company, so it may be in your best interest to get a little guidance first.
- File a claim with your insurance provider. Your insurance company profits by giving you as little money as possible, so they are looking for a way out. That is why seeking advice from an attorney beforehand is important. The goal is not to craft an untrue story, but to avoid being tricked into saying the wrong things. You are a reasonable person. Reasonable people don’t think they are perfect, and they don’t automatically place 100% blame on others for everything bad that ever happens to them. You may have gotten rear ended at no fault of your own, but if you say that in retrospect you could have possibly avoided it somehow, all the insurance company hears is “maybe it was my fault” when it wasn’t.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today
Being involved in a hit and run automobile accident can leave you wondering what to do next. If you suffered significant losses or injury, don’t face your insurance company yourself. You need an experienced attorney with your best interests in mind. We serve Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Apex, and all surrounding areas. Call the Doyle Law Offices, PA today at (919) 228-4487 or fill out the form below.