California’s Vehicle Code requires all drivers to file an accident report any time they are involved in a crash that causes injuries to death to another person. However, not all motorists comply with the law.
Though the individual may have committed a crime by not reporting the incident, you are probably more concerned with your losses after a hit and run with injury.
You may wonder if you can still recover compensation and how to go about doing it, and a knowledgeable car accident attorney can tell you more about your options.
However, this overview on the law and your potential legal remedies can help you understand how personal injury claims work after a hit and run crash.
California is an At-Fault State
All US states take one of two approaches to liability in a car accident. In a no-fault state, you would file a claim for personal injuries with your own insurance company; the fact that you were hurt in a hit and run collision is irrelevant because fault is not an issue.
California follows the more traditional rule in auto accident cases: An injured victim can seek compensation from the driver who was negligent in causing the crash.
Typically, you would purse the responsible motorist’s insurance company, as state law on mandatory minimum auto insurance coverage is intended to protect against just this type of situation.
Tips for Tracking Down a Hit and Run Driver
Even considering at-fault liability rules, in a hit and run with injury, you will not have contact information and other details necessary to file a claim. Still, police will likely investigate any time someone is hurt by a hit and run driver. You can do your best to help them do their job by:
- Writing down all details you can remember, right after the accident. Jot down the color, make, and model of the car. Note the license plate number, even if you only have a few digits. Also, include a description of the driver if you can recall.
- Talk to any witnesses who may have seen the incident, including other drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and bystanders. Get as many details from these individuals and add them to your own account.
- In certain parts of town, businesses may have surveillance cameras for security purposes. These cameras may be pointed in the direction of the hit and run accident, so they can offer valuable video footage to assist police in their investigation.
- Take pictures of the damage to your own vehicle. There may be trace evidence that investigators can use to locate the hit and run driver.
Regardless of these tips on tracking down a motorist who fled the scene, there are other challenges in a hit and run accident.
Often, the type of person who would leave an injured victim behind is the same sort of character that does not carry required auto insurance. The hit and run driver may not have been operating their own vehicle, or maybe the car is not registered.
Other Options to Recover Compensation After a Hit and Run with Injury
You may have another remedy available if you were hurt in a hit and run accident. Motorists have the option of carrying Uninsured or Underinsured (UI/UIM) insurance coverage on their own policies. In California, these policies are optional and not required by law.
If you do opt for the appropriate coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurer to recover compensation for such losses as:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages, if your injuries prevent you from working;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Scarring and disfigurement; and,
- Other damages allowed by law.
Though you may expect the claims process to be easier when you seek compensation with your own insurance company, you can still experience delays or pushback from the claims adjuster. Any insurer is reluctant to pay out claims – even to their own policyholders – because doing so affects their profits.
You may need assistance from a lawyer who will ensure you get the compensation you deserve as a hit and run accident victim.
Discuss Your Options with a Skilled Car Accident Attorney
For more information on your options after being injured in a hit and run accident, please contact Wakeford Gelini at 415.569.7495 or online. We can set up a free consultation to review your circumstances and tell you more about your legal remedies. You can also visit our websiteto learn more about how retaining a car accident lawyer can help after a hit and run with injury.