How Do You File a Claim After a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Feb 28, 2023 - Car Accidents
Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can be an unnerving and disheartening experience. While we all hope that people will do the right thing when they cause an accident, the unfortunate reality is that many do not. Hit-and-run accidents are common, and, in these situations, accident victims face additional challenges that they do not deserve.
But, while protecting your legal rights after a hit-and-run accident can be challenging, you still can—and should—hire a lawyer to help you. Your lawyer can conduct an investigation to try to identify the driver who hit you, and, even if this investigation proves fruitless, there may still be ways your lawyer can recover financial compensation for your accident-related losses.
Conducting an Investigation to Identify the Hit-and-Run Driver
When you hire a lawyer for your hit-and-run accident in Pennsylvania, one of the first steps your lawyer will take is to send an investigator to the scene of the crash. The investigator will gather any evidence that is available. From tire marks to debris on the side of the road, there may be various forms of evidence that the investigator can use to begin focusing on the driver’s identity. Investigators can work to identify hit-and-run drivers through various other means as well, and, while there are no guarantees, many investigators are very good at what they do.
In addition to hiring an investigator, your lawyer will work to identify the hit-and-run driver through various other means as well. These include trying to identify eye-witnesses, obtaining any traffic camera or security camera footage from nearby, and working with you to recall as many details as possible. Your lawyer may work with local law enforcement as well. If your lawyer is able to identify the driver who hit you, then your lawyer will be able to pursue a claim under the driver’s insurance policy (if the driver has coverage) or against the driver’s employer (if the driver was working at the time of the crash).
Filing a Claim Under Your Insurance Policy
Regardless of whether it is possible to identify the hit-and-run driver, you may also be able to obtain coverage under your (or a family member’s) auto insurance policy. In hit-and-run accident cases, several types of coverage may apply, including:
- Medical Benefits Coverage – Medical benefits coverage is mandatory in Pennsylvania, so, if you have auto insurance, you should have this coverage available. The minimum coverage amount is $5,000 (though many people purchase more), and you can use this to help cover your initial medical expenses from the accident.
- Extraordinary Medical Benefits Coverage – Extraordinary medical benefits coverage is optional, and it covers accident-related medical expenses in excess of $100,000 (up to $1 million). If you suffered any type of serious injury in your accident, it is possible that your medical costs could exceed your standard medical benefits coverage.
- Income Loss Coverage – Income loss coverage is also optional in Pennsylvania, and, as its name suggests, it provides coverage for any hours or days (or weeks or months) you miss from work due to your accident-related injuries. Coverage amounts vary, so you will need to make sure you know your coverage limit if you have this type of insurance under your auto policy.
- Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage – For first-party insurance purposes, hit-and-run accidents are treated similarly to accidents involving uninsured motorists. This means that if you have UM coverage under your policy, you can use this to recover your losses in the event that it isn’t possible to identify the hit-and-run driver. You can also use it if the driver fled the scene because he or she was uninsured.
- Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage – If it is possible to identify the hit-and-run driver and he or she has some insurance coverage, but not enough to fully cover the costs of your injuries, you can use your UIM coverage (if you have it) to help make up the difference.
- Stacking UM or UIM Coverage – When purchasing UM or UIM coverage in Pennsylvania, you have the option to pay extra for “stacking.” With stacking UM or UIM coverage, you can combine the policy limits for all of your covered vehicles in the event that you need to file a claim. So, for example, if you have two cars each with $100,000 in UM coverage, you could file a claim for up to $200,000 after a hit-and-run accident.
To be clear, these are just the types of coverage that you may be able to use to cover the costs of your injuries. If you have collision, rental reimbursement, towing or gap coverage under your auto insurance policy, you can use these to help cover the costs of your hit-and-run accident as well.
Filing a Third-Party Claim for Your Hit-and-Run Accident
Another option your lawyer will investigate after a hit-and-run accident is the possibility of filing a third-party claim. This is a claim against a company or other entity that is responsible (or partially) responsible for the accident even though it wasn’t directly involved. Some examples of potential third-party claims in hit-and-run accident cases include:
- A Claim Against Your Vehicle’s Manufacturer – If your brakes failed, if your airbags didn’t protect you how they were supposed to, or if any other issue with your car, truck or SUV played a role in causing your injuries, you may have a claim against your vehicle’s manufacturer.
- A Claim Against a State or Local Road Authority – If an issue with the road played a role in your crash (i.e., inadequate lane markings, inadequate signage, a pothole or a low shoulder), then the government agency that is responsible for building and maintaining the road could also be responsible for your injuries.
Get Help from the Lawyers at Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C.
If you need help after a hit-and-run accident in Pennsylvania, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To speak with a lawyer at our law offices in Allentown, Bethlehem, Doylestown, Stroudsburg or Easton, call 888-777-7098 or tell us how we can reach you online now.