Follow along with a hit and run car accident victim from the collision to compensation. Learn about auto insurance claims after a hit and run.
Here we unpack a fictional case study drawn from the fact patterns in actual hit and run car accident cases.
Our study deals with a side-impact collision that left the victim injured and helpless as the other driver sped away from the scene.
We’ll discuss how the crash occurred, liability, injuries, negotiations, and the final claim resolution.
We wrap up with a list of important points you should know about hit and run car accident claims.
The Hit and Run Collision
The accident occurred at a 4-way intersection in a residential neighborhood outside of a medium-sized city. The day was clear, and the roads were dry. It was still early in the morning, so commuter traffic was light.
Jennifer was driving her new compact sedan to work. She was traveling her usual route to work when she came to a 4-way intersection. She came to a complete and legal stop at the stop sign. There was one car behind Jennifer’s when she stopped.
After looking both ways, Jennifer went ahead through the intersection. Without warning, a large, white pickup truck barreled through the intersection without stopping and T-boned her on the passenger side of her small car.
The impact pushed her car across the street and into a light pole. Both vehicles came to a skidding stop. However, the white pickup truck immediately fled the scene.
The driver of the car that was behind Jennifer pulled over to the curb, called 911, and got out to see if she could help. Due to the sound of the collision, several residents of the neighborhood came outside to see what happened.
Within minutes an ambulance, fire truck, and the police were on the scene.
Side-Impact Accident Injuries
Side impact collisions often cause secondary crashes, as when Jennifer’s car smashed into a light pole after the initial impact from the pickup truck.
T-bone crashes are fast and violent, often causing devastating injuries to occupants of the car that gets broadsided. Spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and brain trauma are not uncommon.
Despite the airbags that deployed during the crash, Jennifer was in and out of consciousness when emergency responders cut her out of the mangled car.
After carefully immobilizing Jennifer’s head and neck on a backboard, the paramedics transported her to the nearest trauma center.
At the hospital, Jennifer was evaluated and rushed into surgery for repair of internal injuries, including a ruptured spleen. She also suffered a concussion, a broken nose, whiplash, and multiple scrapes and bruises.
Jennifer had multiple medical appointments for treatment and follow-up for a full six months after the crash.
Although she knew she was lucky to be alive and able to walk, Jennifer required mental health treatment to cope with her fear of car travel, nightmares, and general anxiety following the accident.
Jennifer was out of work for the first three months of her recovery. She was medically cleared to ease back into her desk job as a travel agent, working part-time hours for another three months.
Liability for Hit and Run Accidents
Jennifer was observing the rules of the road and had come to a complete stop at the intersection. When she lawfully drove forward, she was struck by the truck that fled the scene.
The driver behind Jennifer at the stop sign saw everything and willingly provided a witness statement to the police. Police officers are trained in accident investigation and fault analysis.
Based on witness statements and evidence from the scene, the police concluded Jennifer did not contribute to the cause of the collision. The driver of the white pickup truck was at-fault for the crash.
Every state has traffic laws that are violated in hit and run car accidents.
Drivers who cause injury to others by violating the traffic laws are liable, meaning financially responsible, for the injury victims’ losses.
In this hit and run accident, the driver of the pickup could be cited for:
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Failure to come to a complete stop at the intersection
- Felony hit and run (raised to a felony because Jennifer was injured)
Because the driver left the scene and no one was able to get a look at the truck’s license plate, the police were unable to name the at-fault driver.
In an effort to find the at-fault driver, the police broadcasted a descriptions of the pickup truck, and the type of front-end damage to look for, to state and local police departments.
Damages and Claim Negotiations
Bodily injury damages include:
- Ambulance expenses
- Medical bills
- Mental health treatment bills
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Transportation costs to medical appointments
- Pain and suffering
Unfortunately, the police were not able to track down the driver of the pickup. Therefore, there was no other insurance company against which to submit a personal injury claim.
Jennifer turned to her own insurance company to submit her damages claim under her uninsured motorist coverage. She also had collision coverage she could use for her wrecked car.
Jennifer carried uninsured motorist coverage limits of $100,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 for property damage.
Most states require auto policies to include uninsured motorist coverage to protect policyholders in the event of an accident caused by someone without insurance, or in this case, someone who can’t be located.
The company quickly settled the property damage claim for Jennifer’s car for the fair market value of her vehicle.
Jennifer had $40,000 in medical expenses, $3,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, and $9,000 in lost wages. Her attorney filed an insurance claim on her behalf, demanding the full $100,000 of underinsured motorist coverage in compensation for Jennifer’s hard costs and pain and suffering.
Jennifer’s attorney handled all the settlement negotiations with her insurance company, emphasizing the severity of her injuries and the emotional distress she suffered from the violent crash.
After a few rounds of negotiations, Jennifer’s bodily injury claim was settled for $95,000.
Important Points About Hit and Run Claims
- If you’re hit by an uninsured or unknown driver, you can turn to your own insurance company for claims under your uninsured motorist coverage.
- In no-fault insurance states, you and your passengers will be covered by your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
- Carry enough uninsured motorist coverage to adequately protect you and your family. If you only purchase the bare minimum of coverage, that’s all there is to fall back on if you’re badly injured by an uninsured or unknown driver.
- If the at-fault driver is located later, your insurance company has a right of subrogation, meaning they can go after the at-fault driver to recover the money they paid on your behalf.
- Severe injury claims should be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney, even if you are dealing with your own insurance company. The adjuster’s job is to minimize payouts, including payouts to policyholders.
- If you are an injured passenger in a car that’s hit by an uninsured or unknown driver, you can file an injury claim with your driver’s insurance company.
- Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime. If you are injured by a hit and run driver, you may be eligible for benefits through your state’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund. For example, Texas provides hit-and-run Crime Victim Compensation benefits.
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