I was recently speaking with someone who told me that his friend had been hit in a crosswalk by a hit and run driver who was never located. He commented that it was a shame that his friend could not collect any money for his very serious injuries. I told him that in the circumstances presented, he could.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during a recent four-year period, one out of every eight accidents nationwide was a hit and run. Statistics show that there were 366,000 hit and run accidents in the Northeast. Nearly 80% of those hit and run accidents involve property damage only.
Unfortunately, many victims of hit and run accidents face devastating consequences, which often times result in serious physical injuries or death as a result of the severity of the collision and the fact that the victim is left for dead on the side of the road.
The most frequently cited cause of drivers fleeing the scene of an accident is panic. Drivers who were intoxicated, have records of traffic offenses, such as reckless driving and speeding, are more likely to leave the scene of an accident in order to avoid arrest or prosecution.
Even if the driver of the vehicle cannot be located, you still have the ability to obtain financial compensation for your losses. Connecticut insurance policies provide for uninsured motorist coverage, which will provide you with coverage up to the stated policy limits. You may also be able to access coverage under policies of family members of your household.
This coverage, UM as it is frequently called, pays for injuries to you, your passengers, and family members who are injured by another driver who is at fault but who doesn't carry any liability coverage or who causes the accident and then takes off and cannot be identified (hit and run).
UM/UIM (underinsured motorist coverage) is one of the most important types of coverage you can have under your motor vehicle insurance policy. It's like buying liability insurance coverage for every driver on the road. The premium for this kind of coverage is relatively modest in comparison to the protection it can provide.
So what should you do if you are involved in a hit and run accident:
1. Assess your injuries and contact the police immediately;
2. If you are able, provide the police with as much information as possible about the vehicle and the driver of the car that hit you;
3. Make sure all witnesses are located and identified to the police;
4. Get the advice of an experienced injury lawyer; and
5. Contact your insurance company to report the accident as there may be time limitations.
It is also important that you review your insurance coverage, before you have an accident, to make sure you are adequately protected. It is recommended that you obtain at least a million dollar umbrella policy to provide you with at least that much uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. The premiums are relatively inexpensive compared to the coverage afforded.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a hit and run driver, contact our Connecticut hit and run attorneys at (888) 244-5840.