Hit-and-Run: Q& A with Michael Brehne

Here’s everything you need to know about what to do if you are involved in or are a witness of a hit-and-run accident. 

What is the first thing you do if you are not severely injured and are involved in a hit-and- run accident?

Whenever an accident occurs, you are legally obligated to do one of two things: one is to exchange information with the other driver including your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information and the second is to call the police and await their arrival to complete an accident report. With a hit-and-run, there is no one to exchange information with so you’ll have to wait for the police to arrive. The police will give you a case number as you will need that to make your claim to your insurance company.  It is imperative that you purchase uninsured motorist protection to protect you in a situation such as this. 

Normally if you only have the state minimum insurance of personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage, you will have no coverage for a hit-and-run accident. This means your car damage will not be covered and you will have to repair or replace it yourself. As well, you’ll be responsible for your own medical bills beyond the $10,000 provided by PIP coverage. If you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage, be sure that it matches your liability insurance limits and that you did not select a lower amount. 

If you witness a hit-and-run, what is the best way to ensure you are a help not a hindrance to the victim and the crime scene?

If you witness a hit-and-run accident and can provide a tag number or strong vehicle description, you are invaluable to the police investigation and to the injured driver who did not leave the scene. Write down or send a text to yourself all the details that you can remember as soon as you realize one of the vehicles is going to drive off or has driven off.  Remain at the scene and provide this information to the police when they arrive to complete the accident report. If you cannot stay, make sure that you give that information to the driver that did not leave the scene so that they can give your name and number as well as the information you obtained to the police. It would be best however for you to stay and complete a written statement to assist in the prosecution of the hit-and-run driver.

 If there are no witnesses, do you have any legal recourse? 

Even if there are no witnesses to your hit-and-run accident, you may still make a claim and receive uninsured motorist benefits from your own insurance company. Although your story will be subject to great scrutiny, if you have the representation of a skilled lawyer, you will be able to make and process this claim successfully. 

When should you call an attorney?

If you were injured in a hit-and-run accident, I would recommend contacting an attorney as soon as you can after you have attended to your injuries. Hit-and-run accidents are heavily scrutinized and require the skills of an experienced attorney to help you avoid the hidden traps insurance companies have set for you when making such a claim.  

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Written by Michael Brehne

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