Do I Still Have a Case If I Was Injured in a Hit and Run?
Jan. 30, 2023
It is a life-changing experience to be injured in a car accident. Injury victims experience all sorts of frustration with the insurance claim process while trying to recover from their injuries. However, that frustration doesn't compare to the exasperation of having the person at fault flee the scene.
If you are wondering whether you can file a claim after a hit and run, the answer is yes. That is, as long as you carry your own auto insurance.
At Life Law, we represent clients injured in a hit and run accidents in Raleigh, Asheville, Charlotte, Nags Head, Wilmington, and anywhere else in North Carolina. The at-fault driver might have disappeared, but we will always be present for the people they injured.
Who Pays When Someone Is Injured in a Car Crash in North Carolina?
North Carolina holds the person at fault for an accident financially responsible for the damages of those injured. Injury victims have the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver and their liability insurer. Vehicle owners in the state are required to carry minimum liability coverages of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident involving two or more people for bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage.
State law requires anyone involved in a car accident to stop their vehicle and remain at the scene until law enforcement releases them. Fleeing the scene is a criminal defense, charged as a misdemeanor if there are minor injuries and property damage and as a felony in the case of serious and permanent injury or death.
Normally, if someone else caused the crash, you would file a claim against that driver’s auto insurance policy. If that person cannot be identified because they left the scene, you obviously don’t know anything about their insurance coverage. In that case, you can file a claim against the UM coverage in your own liability insurance policy.
How Does Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Work?
There is a provision under North Carolina law that requires insurance companies that sell liability policies to include UM and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage up to the bodily injury limits of the policy. If, for example, the bodily injury liability limit of your auto insurance policy is the minimum of $30,000, you also have $30,000 in UM/UIM coverage. If your bodily injury liability limit is $100,000, you also have $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage.
UIM coverage is for bodily injury claims when the at-fault driver’s liability limits are insufficient for your medical expenses and other damages, other than property damage. It attempts to make up the difference between the costs of your medical care, for example, and the liability limits of the other driver’s policy.
UM coverage is what can be used to compensate victims of hit-and-run accidents.
What Should I Do If I Am Involved in a Hit and Run?
What to do after a hit and run is similar to what you should do after any motor vehicle crash. If you are involved in a hit and run, you should move the vehicle out of the roadway if you can. Dial 911 so the appropriate law enforcement and emergency vehicles can be dispatched to the scene.
If you are able to, write down anything you can remember about the driver or the car that fled the scene. This would include full or partial license plate numbers, state of issuance, car color, make and model, gender and physical description of the driver, and any stickers, dents, or other distinguishing marks on the vehicle. This information will help law enforcement search for the driver and vehicle.
Write down contact information for any witnesses to the crash.
Make sure you seek immediate medical attention, even if you don’t think you are injured. Some car accident injuries are not readily apparent for hours, days, or even weeks after the crash. Delaying proper examination, diagnosis, and treatment could result in an inability to fully recover from your injuries.
Contact your auto insurance company to report the crash so the adjuster can open a claim number. Report that the at-fault driver fled the scene.
Call an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will guide you through the process of documenting and valuing your claim. Don’t assume that because you are filing a claim for UM coverage under your own insurance policy that the company will make it easy for you to obtain a settlement. No matter who is making a claim against your policy coverage, the insurance company will want to pay as little as possible or deny the claim altogether. Your attorney knows how to fight back.
Fight for Your Health and Protection
At Life Law, we fight for our clients every day because we believe clients should be compensated fairly for the damages suffered in a car accident. Fleeing at-fault drivers and insurance companies does not make the process easy. We’ll get into the ring, so you don’t have to.
If you have been involved in a hit and run in Raleigh or anywhere else in the State of North Carolina, call our personal injury attorneys at Life Law today to schedule a free consultation.