Visitor Question

Insurance claim when the hit and run car belongs to deceased person?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Clearwater, Florida)

Hello! I live in Florida and was hit by someone in my front passenger side at a major intersection. I had the right of way.

After the crash, the driver took off through local neighborhoods until his two passenger tires blew. I followed. He stopped and got out of the car.

I also got out of my car after I pulled up behind him, and asked why he took off after hitting me. He started to walk off and said he had to get home, while leaving the car running in the middle of the road.

I called the local police department immediately. When they arrived, they said the driver was at fault and patrolled the area to see if they could find him.

I’ve since gone to urgent care under his insurance company’s claim number. Now after a week, the car owner’s insurance company says the car belongs to a deceased person.

I don’t know what to do at this point. Do I have any recourse? I’ll be happy for any information you can give me.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, you do have recourse, in that you can file an auto accident claim with your own insurance company. Also, if police find the hit and run driver and file criminal charges, a judge may award restitution to help with any of your losses.

No-Fault vs. At-Fault States Insurance States

When it comes to auto insurance claims, states differ in so far as some are no-fault states, while others are at-fault states.

In no-fault states, drivers file injury claims with their own insurer. This is regardless of who caused the accident.

In at-fault states, injured victims file insurance claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. That driver’s bodily injury (BI) liability coverage will pay for the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering up to the policy limits.

Florida is a No-Fault State

In Florida, you can file a claim with your own insurance company for any injuries suffered in the hit and run.

In particular, you’ll file a claim against your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. This coverage pays for medical bills (which would include your urgent care expenses) and lost wages.

PIP also compensates an injured driver for replacement service costs incurred because of the accident, such as daycare for children or lawnmowing. However, PIP does not usually cover compensation for pain and suffering.

When Police Find the Hit and Run Driver

Leaving the scene of an accident that caused death or injuries is a crime in Florida. A criminal offense means that if police find the driver that hit you, they may later file charges against the driver.

If so, the driver gets charged in criminal court. If convicted of a crime, then the driver gets punished accordingly.

Part of a criminal sentence in Florida includes restitution. Restitution means that a judge orders a defendant to compensate the victim of the crime for any injuries or costs incurred because of the offense.

Florida statutes say:

“In addition to any punishment, the court shall order the defendant to make restitution to the victim for:

1. Damage or loss caused directly or indirectly by the defendant’s offense; and

2. Damage or loss related to the defendant’s criminal episode…”

Therefore, you can look to restitution in the event that:

  • Your insurer denies your auto claim
  • You suffer injuries that exceed the limits of your PIP coverage

Learn more here: Hit and Runs / Leaving the Scene

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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