For a car accident lawyer, like from Mishkind Kulwicki Law, CO., L.P.A., a hit-and-run accident can pose many problems. Depending on state law, it may be difficult to get insurance coverage for injuries or death caused by the hit-and-run.
A hit-and-run may occur for a number of reasons. For example, the driver who speeds away after an accident may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs or have outstanding criminal charges or lack insurance, and escape from the scene in an effort to avoid responsibility for the accident but, more importantly, to avoid responsibility for being drunk or engaged in other criminal behavior. In some cases, a driver may skip the scene because he or she simply did not feel the impact, particularly when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian.
When there is a hit-and-run accident, your personal injury lawyer’s first step is going to be to try to locate the negligent driver. I handled a wrongful death case where a car driver struck a jogger early in the morning. Rather than helping her, assuming she was dead, he dragged her body off the road and left her in a wet ditch. Forensic evaluation showed that she was not dead at the time of the accident, but instead died as a result of drowning from being placed in the ditch. This individual was found by a police officer who noted a small piece of colorful fiberglass at the accident site. He walked around the area before locating a car that had a piece of fiberglass missing in exactly the same color and place. That driver went to jail.
In addition to police investigations, your lawyer may conduct his or her own investigation. Personal injury lawyers may put an ad in the local paper or on CraigsList to try to locate eyewitnesses. I have canvassed accident sites myself to locate eyewitnesses successfully. Finally, with the spread of surveillance cameras, local businesses or residences may have videotape evidence that can identify the hit-and-run driver. One such resource is evidence.com.
If the hit-and-run driver can be located, obviously his or her automobile insurance will pay for any personal injuries or wrongful death. However, in many instances the driver does not have insurance and that is precisely why they left the accident site. In this case, the injured party will look to their own insurance, particularly the uninsured and underinsured motorist provisions, for coverage. Some states, however, have a no contact rule, meaning that you can only recover under your UM provisions if the hit – skip driver came into physical contact with your vehicle. If there was no physical contact but the collision occurred simply because you took evasive action to avoid a negligent driver, no coverage may exist.
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you should contact the police department immediately to report the collision. Be careful to document any physical damage including any scrapes on your car, other cars or guardrails that were involved in the accident. You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so that he or she can also conduct their own investigation.