Multi car hit and run accident... who pays for my damages?
(Long Beach, California)
My car was involved in a hit and run accident. An SUV was driving down a street and a car came through a stop sign and hit the SUV, which spun into my car and hit it while parked. The car that caused the accident fled the scene, however the driver of the SUV stayed and I was able to retrieve their information.
When hit on the driver side rear bumper, the SUV did a 230 degree spin into my driver side door. The SUV slid approximately 40-50 feet, missing a car that was parked in front of my car.
My assumption is the SUV had to be moving at an unsafe speed to have traveled the distance to hit my car, smashing in the driver side door, busting the dash up and pushing my car against the curb, bending the rear axle. This all occurred on a residential street going southbound towards a major boulevard, where vehicles often speed when attempting to catch the light before it turns red.
The driver of the car that fled has not been located. The insurance company of the driver of the SUV is claiming that their driver is not at fault, and I will need to seek recovery from the driver that hit their insured driver's vehicle.
My argument is that their driver is at fault as well because of the distance the large SUV (2015 Dodge Durango) had to travel to hit my car and spin almost completely around while creating the amount of damage my car sustained.
Who is at fault here? Am I able to gain recovery from the insurance company of the SUV? Do I have any other options? This incident happened in California. Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Multi car hit and run accident... who pays for my damages?":
James (Long Beach, California):
You are in a difficult position. The insurance company representing the SUV driver has taken the stance that their insured was not responsible for the crash. Instead, the company is asserting the driver of the car which left the scene was the responsible party. To persuade the driver's insurance company to change their mind will require persuasive evidence.
Your argument is the driver of the SUV is at fault and therefore legally responsible for your losses. You've taken this position because of the distance the large SUV had to travel to hit your car and spin it almost completely around while creating the amount of damage your car sustained. That sounds like a good argument. Unfortunately, it has not been persuasive.
Your options are:
1. Retain a private investigator to reconstruct the accident scene in an effort to show the SUV was responsible for the accident. This will be expensive and likely not cost effective.
2. File a lawsuit against the SUV driver. At $10,000, the State of California has one of the highest jurisdictional amounts for small claim courts in the U.S. If you want to pursue the claim against the SUV driver, consider filing a small claims lawsuit.
Learn more about California Small Claims Court here.
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,
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