Being injured in a car crash is painful and traumatic, especially if you’re a pedestrian. But when the driver breaks the law and leaves the scene, known as a “hit-and-run,” things become even more complicated. The driver who caused your injuries is legally responsible for paying damages, but how can you file a claim against a driver’s insurance if the driver disappears?
If you’ve been a victim of a hit-and-run accident in Nashville, you’re not alone. Hit-and-runs are unfortunately quite common—and the numbers continue to rise. According to data compiled by AAA, more than 700,000 hit-and-runs occur in the nation each year, killing thousands and injuring hundreds of thousands in the process. Nashville is no exception to these trends; in fact, hit-and-runs are so common here that the Nashville Police Department has a dedicated unit for investigating hit-and-runs. So let’s talk about the steps you need to take after a hit-and-run accident and your options for getting your injuries covered.
Steps to Take after a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you are injured in a hit-and-run, the choices you make in the minutes, hours, and days to follow can have a direct impact on the kind of settlement you receive. Make sure you do take the following steps immediately following the accident:
- Call 911 for immediate help. You’re going to need both medical attention and a police presence at the scene. When the police arrive, provide as much detail as possible about the accident for their report.
- Gather evidence as you can. Photo evidence and eyewitness testimony can go a long way toward both finding the hit-and-run driver and getting compensation for your injuries.
- Get medical attention immediately. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor. Many injuries, including internal bleeding and brain damage, may not be immediately apparent.
- Contact your insurance company. In a hit-and-run, chances are your own insurance company is going to play a role in your compensation—so they need to be notified.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. A good lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process after a hit-and-run accident, as well as help you get the compensation you need to cover medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
How Much Compensation Can You Get?
It’s impossible to know how much compensation you’ll receive without knowing the full extent of your injuries. But hit-and-run accidents are complicated; injuries from these accidents can be severe, and the people who leave the scene of an accident are usually at fault. In other words, you shouldn’t expect a small settlement for your injuries, but short of catching the driver, it may require some patience to get the full amount to which you’re entitled.
Alternatives for Compensation
When an at-fault driver leaves the scene of the accident, the default source of compensation becomes your own auto insurance policy, depending on the type of coverage you have. If your policy provides it, they will pay according to the terms of your policy and recover their own costs if the at-fault party is caught. Some of the ways your insurance can cover your injury costs are:
- Uninsured motorist coverage. This provision kicks in when the at-fault driver is either absent or doesn’t have sufficient coverage.
- Medical payments coverage (MedPay). This add-on to your insurance will cover your medical expenses up to your policy limits.
- Umbrella insurance. If you have umbrella coverage, this part of your policy may kick in to cover extra expenses past what your other policy limits allow to make sure you’re not paying out of pocket.
Each of these types of insurance come at a modest cost, and they can save you financially in the event of a hit-and-run. But obviously, the time to get the coverage is before your accident. Given the number of hit-and-runs in recent years, it’s worth it to consider one or more of these options for your own auto policy.
Whether you’re negotiating with your own insurance or that of the hit-and-run driver, you’ll want a skilled personal injury attorney. It will be the lawyer’s job to negotiate on your behalf and to make sure they are paying properly. The law firm of Weir and Kestner has plenty of experience with even the most complex hit-and-run injury cases. Fill out our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.