According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hit-and-run drivers are involved in 11% of police-reported crashes, killing roughly 1,500 people every year. Emotions run high following a hit-and-run car accident in which you or a loved one have been the victim. You might feel confused, angry, frustrated and in a state of disbelief. Looming among the myriad of questions you may be asking is the inevitable; Who will pay for my medical expenses and the damage to my vehicle?
Although every situation is different, here is some basic information that can help you through the stress and confusion of a hit-and-run accident.
HIT AND RUN: COMPENSATION IN A “NO-FAULT” STATE
Minnesota is one of about a dozen states that have “No Fault” car insurance, or Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP insurance (mandatory in MN) means that your own car insurance will pay your medical bills and lost wages if you get into a car accident (the minimum required amount is $40,000 per person/per accident) no matter who was at fault.
If the hit-and-run driver’s identity is known, you can pursue compensation for your medical expenses both through your own PIP coverage, as well as the other driver’s insurance (to cover medical expenses that exceed your insurance’s limit and also to pay for damage done to your vehicle).
If the police are unable to identify the hit-and-run driver, filing a personal injury claim with your own insurance under your uninsured motorist coverage is the way to go.
A lot depends on whether or not the other driver in question is caught. This is something you can have some influence over immediately following the accident.
WHAT TO DO AT THE SCENE OF A HIT-AND-RUN ACCIDENT
Look for witnesses, and get their contact information. Have an objective third party’s version of what happened can be very useful in court.
Record as much information as you can remember immediately following the accident. Important information to include is the make, model and color of the vehicle, a license plate number if you were able to see it, a description of the driver, the time of day, exact location and any details about what exactly happened.
Note: In the event that your car was struck when you weren’t around (in the mall parking lot for example), still make note of the time, place, and whatever damages were done.
Report the incident to the police. Having a police report can expedite the court process. Even if you feel the situation doesn’t warrant a call the police, it’s still a good idea to do it.
Do not pursue the other driver – no matter how wronged you feel. It might go against every fiber of your being, especially if you’re angry, but chasing after the hit and run driver is never a good idea. It could lead to another accident caused by either one of you. Also, you don’t know what state of mind the other driver is in and what they could do once they see that you’re following them.
HIT AND RUN: IT’S A CRIME
Aside from compensation, many victims of hit-and-run accidents want to know why the driver fled. Although there are no justifiable excuses for leaving the scene of an accident, some common reasons people flee are: intoxication, driving without a license, a prior record of violations, undocumented immigrant status, or they may just make a bad decision because they’re so shaken up.
In the state of Minnesota, leaving the scene of an accident you caused can come with penalties of up to ten years imprisonment and $20,000 in fines if the crash results in a fatality. Minnesota law requires all drivers to remain at the scene of any motor vehicle accident that results in death, injury or property damage. You must provide your contact information (name, date of birth, address and vehicle registration number) to all pertinent parties, and help the injured get the assistance they need.
Obtaining compensation for your losses when you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident can be a difficult process to navigate. Talk with a Minnesota personal injury attorney at Meshbesher & Spence about the circumstances of your accident for a thorough review of your claim.