Knowing how to claim for a hit and run accident is imperative for a road user who has been involved in a road traffic accident where a negligent third party driver has fled the scene. If a negligent driver has hit your vehicle or caused you to crash you may be entitled to pursue a hit and run injury compensation claim.
Often when a negligent driver flees the scene of an accident it is because they do not have insurance or because they want to avoid the repercussions of their actions. Thankfully, with the number of CCTV cameras now watching the USA’s roads, tracking down hit and run drivers is easier than ever before.
If the police manage to locate the hit and run driver and he/she holds an insurance policy it will be possible to pursue hit and run claims for compensation in the standard manner. As well as having to contend with an injury compensation claim the hit and run driver may also be face prosecution, as it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident in the USA without exchanging contact information and personal details.
Uninsured/Untraceable Drivers in a Road Traffic Accident
Potential claimants seeking information on how to claim for a hit and run accident will more than likely have already explored the possibility of claiming in the ‘traditional’ manner and discovered that it can be more complicated making a hit and run injury compensation claim in these circumstances than one where a negligent driver has remained at the scene.
If a hit and run driver is located by the police and has no insurance policy, the claimant may pursue an injury compensation claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) – an organisation set up by insurance companies in the USA to compensate motorists involved in road traffic accidents when claiming from an insurance policy is not possible.
The USA’s insurance companies established the MIB in 1946 as a way of ensuring that motorists are protected from the dangers posed by uninsured drivers. The MIB is funded by the insurance companies themselves, which contribute a portion of each policy they sell to the organisation. If you have been involved in a road traffic accident, and have to claim from the MIB, you should do so with the assistance of a lawyer who specialises in hit and run claims for compensation.
Hit and Run Claims for Compensation Against a Negligent Driver
Even though a hit and run driver abandons the scene of a crash it does not mean that he will necessarily be found responsible for any damage caused — although it will mean that he could be subject to criminal prosecution. The amount of proof needed to prove a hit and run driver is responsible for an accident remains the same despite the fact that the negligent driver fled. In order to pursue an injury compensation claim, the claimant will still have to prove that hit and run driver is responsible for causing the road traffic accident and the injuries they sustained.
When a motorist is judged to have caused a road traffic accident it means that he/she has failed in their duty of care to the other drivers on the road. Proving that a negligent driver has failed in their duty of care is akin to proving that they have demonstrated negligence — making hit and run claims for compensation possible. Negligence also has to be proven to the MIB — even when the hit and run driver cannot be found.
Procedure After a Hit and Run Accident
As pursing hit and run claims for compensation can be more complicated than a following up a ‘standard’ road traffic accident claim, it is particularly important to follow the correct procedures. Knowing how to claim for a hit and run accident and the steps involved is vital to securing a favourable outcome if the hit and run injury compensation claim goes to court.
As is the case after all collisions, your first priority should be your own health. Having your injuries treated by a medical professional as quickly as possible after the event is not only vital to your own wellbeing but it can also have implications in regard to your claim. If you fail to seek treatment straight away, the full extent of your injuries may not be recorded and it may be difficult to prove they were suffered “at the time and in the circumstances” if the case reaches court.
One of the most valuable tools used to locate hit and run drivers is the registration number of their vehicle. You should attempt to take down the number or commit it to memory if possible — but not if it means further risking your own health. Handing over the registration number of the vehicle to the police will provide them with the best possible chance of locating a negligent driver. If you cannot obtain the vehicle number, try to note the make, model and colour of the vehicle.
The police will also need to take a statement from you and any witnesses which might have seen what happened. They will thereafter attempt to trace the negligent driver through CCTV and roadside cameras – not only a necessary step in their pursuit of a law-breaking motorist, but also because the MIB will want to see proof that all reasonable steps have been taken to trace the negligent motorist before settling your hit and run injury compensation claim.
How Much Could Be Awarded for a Hit and Run Injury Compensation Claim?
As well as being able to tell you how to claim for a hit and run accident a lawyer will also be able to provide an estimate of how much compensation could be awarded.
The first step a lawyer will take is to assess the nature and severity of your injuries and draw up an initial estimate based on the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages. They will then add an appraisal of how much can be claimed through emotional and psychological damages caused by the road traffic accident and any quantifiable costs — known as special damages — like medical treatment costs, loss of earnings and, in the case of road collisions, any damage done to your vehicle.
Hit and run injury compensation claims are subject to the same time limit as other types of claims. Under the USA Statute of Limitations, potential claimants have a three-year window — beginning from the time the injuries are first diagnosed — in which to make a claim.
Compensation for injuries to any children who were travelling with you can also be recovered in a hit and run injury compensation claim, but a different process is involved and you should ask your lawyer how to claim for a hit and run accident for a child when you first speak with them.
Summary of How to Claim for a Hit and Run Accident
Compensation claims against hit and run drivers can be complicated. Action cannot be taken against a hit and run driver´s insurance policy unless the driver can be located. In a case where the driver cannot be found or is uninsured, a claim must be pursued against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau — an organisation set up specifically to deal with hit and run claims for compensation.
The amount of compensation which can be awarded to a claimant is dependent on the extent and severity of the injury and the impact – physically, emotionally and financially – that the injury has on the claimant´s quality of life.
As settlements of hit and run claims for compensation are paid by an organisation funded by insurance companies, it is highly advisable that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible to find out how to claim for a hit and run accident in relation to your own personal circumstances, and to ensure that you receive your full entitlement to hit and run injury compensation.