Semi truck hit my car and drove away?

by Rose
(Brattleboro, VT)

I live in Vermont, but was driving my mother's car with NH plates. I'm on her insurance, so no problem there. However, a flat bed semi veered into my lane, crashed into my car, and left the scene. Witnesses followed and got his (New Jersey) plates, but the two witnesses came up with two different plate numbers.

Other than a bruise from my steering wheel, I wasn't injured, but my car is in terrible shape.

As it turns out, I don't have collision, so while I'm not at fault, I have to wait for the police report to get the other driver's info so I can call his insurance company and try to get them to pay for the damage done... apparently?

My father says I have essentially no chance of getting them to cover costs. My mother's friend, a former insurance agent, says since they left the scene, they'll probably have to pay. Has anyone had any success in a situation like this? I don't quite know how this works. Any information you can give would be helpful. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Semi truck hit my car and drove away?":

Rose (Brattleboro, VT):

You don't have to wait for the police report. Contact the Vermont police agency investigating the hit and run. The police agency has the ability to access New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and track down the owner of the truck.

Even with partial plate numbers and a general description of the truck, the police have the ability to track it down. When you speak with the police agency, ask how soon the police report will be available. Explain to them the urgency of your situation.

The State of Vermont is a traditional fault state, also referred to as a "3rd party liability state." In a 3rd party liability state, as the victim of a car accident, you have the right to do one or more of the following:

- File a claim with the at-fault truck driver’s insurance company

- File a claim with your mother's insurance company

- Sue the truck driver

Once the police have succeeded in locating the driver, you can contact the truck driver’s employer and request the employer pay for your property damage or refer you to his or her insurance company

Finally, in the event the driver is located he may be arrested for leaving the scene of an accident pursuant to Vermont law, Title 23 Chapter 013 Section 1128

If so, you will be able to contact the prosecutor handling the case. Tell the prosecutor you sustained property damage as a result of the accident caused by the defendant.

If the prosecutor is offering a probated sentence, the judge can order as condition of his probation the defendant be ordered to reimburse you for your property damage. Then, if then the driver fails to pay, he may be arrested and jailed for the remainder of his sentence.

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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