Hit-and-run accidents aren’t always accidents in which the at-fault driver flees the scene leaving a confused, dazed, and upset victim sitting in his or her car or lying in the middle of the road. It’s what the movies portray, but a hit-and-run can be as simple as a large dent in the side of your car in the parking lot to a driver hitting a cyclist on the side of the road and driving off. Legally defined, a hit-and-run car accident is any accident in which another driver damages a person or their property and flees the scene. The most common question hit-and-run victims have when they are involved in this type of accident is whether or not they are covered by insurance.
The law varies, and it depends. When there’s no one else around to cite for the accident or damage to your car, person, or personal property, you must rely on your own insurance coverage. In a perfect legal world, the at-fault driver is caught fleeing the scene and forced to take responsibility for the accident. Reality doesn’t always work like that, and more than half of all hit-and-run drivers are never caught and charged for the damage they cause. This puts the victim in a complex situation. Your own insurance must handle the damage, but it won’t handle this kind of damage unless you carry two specific forms of insurance:
Collision insurance protects drivers who are hit by another object or person while on the road or parked anywhere. Comprehensive insurance covers everything else, such as vandalism or damage caused by a natural disaster. If you have either type of insurance, your coverage will protect you in case of a hit-and-run incident. A hit-and-run situation is almost always covered under your collision insurance. There are some considerations to make when you file a claim to protect yourself from a hit-and-run.
Does Your Policy Cover the Damage?
One of the biggest mistakes drivers make when they pay off their vehicle is lowering their coverage. After all, it doesn’t make that much sense to continue paying for coverage substantial enough for a brand-new vehicle when yours is now older. Reducing coverage might seem like a wise decision in the short-term, but it might leave you unprotected if another driver causes damage to your vehicle and doesn’t stick around to take the blame and offer up their insurance.
Is the Damage Less Than Your Deductible?
Another consideration is the overall cost of the damage. If another car dings your door in the parking lot while you’re shopping, chances are good the repair can be covered for less than the cost of your deductible. When this occurs, it doesn’t make sense to go through your insurance for repairs, and you certainly don’t want to take he hit on your driving record. Even when someone else is at fault for your accident and the damage to your vehicle, that claim is reported on your insurance coverage and often makes rates rise.
Handling a Hit-and-Run Accident
No one asks to be involved in a hit-and-run, but you do have some options. The first is to gather as much information as you can from the car who hit you. Did you see it occur? The make, model, color, distinguishing features, and any portion of the license plate you can catch helps law enforcement identify the vehicle at hand. Did anyone see anything? If you can find a witness, that also works in your favor.
The most important thing you can do is stay calm, don’t chase after the other driver, and call the police. Once you handle this, a personal injury attorney is able to provide you with more information about your rights, your coverage, and what happens next. If the person responsible for your hit-and-run is captured, our experienced attorneys can help you seek the compensation you deserve. You shouldn’t be responsible for paying for medical bills, car repairs, and insurance deductibles when someone else is at fault.
A hit-and-run situation might seem hopeless in the moment, but you do have options. Know your rights, call an attorney, and never forgo medical treatment if you were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Many hit-and-run victims assume they’re fine on the scene only to experience injury and pain in the hours and days following an accident. Knowing your rights and how to handle this situation is paramount, and that’s why a personal injury attorney is a wise choice.