How do you get a settlement after the at-fault driver left the scene?

by Barbara
(Sebastopol, CA)

I was just about to turn left into a driveway off a two lane country road when I got rear ended (impact at least 50 mph). I ended up facing 180 degrees in the opposite direction between a 3 foot Redwood Tree and a mailbox. I never saw the car that collided with me. He drove down a couple driveways and then fled on foot.

Later when an officer went to the registered owner's address the owner only gave the friend's name, saying he didn't want to get him in trouble. For some reason the officer did not get the owner's insurance information. I have to find a ride to get the information myself, I guess.

Isn't hit and run a felony offense? Shouldn't it compel the car's owner to reveal the name and contact information of the driver who fled?

I've now been 15 days without transportation. My insurance adjuster won't rent me a car. It's ironic that just 3 days prior to this accident I settled on a case where I was rear ended 3 years ago.

Why do the claims people and insurance lawyers treat you like a criminal when you are the victim? I wasn't happy with the previous settlement. I want my insurance company to pay this time for my injuries and suffering. What can I do?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "How do you get a settlement after the at-fault driver left the scene?":

Barbara (Sebastopol, CA):

The police officer seems to have acted inappropriately. Yes, in most states, including the State of California, hit and run is a felony offense.

Your insurance company probably isn't going to pay for your injuries or related expenses until they investigate the claim. It matters little that the driver of the car is "in the wind." A car owner is liable for injuries caused by a driver who had permission from the owner to drive the car.

It seems pretty obvious the owner did give his permission, especially because he's already admitted to the police officer his friend was driving the car. Additionally, the owner did not say the driver did not have his permission.

You really need to ask the owner of the car for his insurance information and file a claim with them. Get copy of the police report. It probably doesn't cost more than a few dollars. In it the investigating officer will have likely listed the owner's name, address and telephone number.

Additionally, you didn't mention what type of medical treatment you had, nor if you have any medical bills. Without proof of injuries and medical bills directly related to the collision, you really don't have a case. You can also file a complaint with the police officer's supervisor. In it make clear the collision was a hit and run.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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