It can be traumatizing anytime you’re involved in an auto accident. An instance in which the other motorist leaves the crash scene can be particularly frustrating if your car was badly damaged in such an incident or you suffered significant injuries in the collision.
There are a few different steps that you’ll want to take any time a hit-and-run accident occurs, whether or not it results in injuries or property damage. We’ll highlight what those are and any options for recovering compensation below.
What Is a Hit-And-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident is one in which a motorist flees the scene of the crash after it occurs without:
- Checking on the other motorist to see if they’re okay or summoning paramedics to the scene
- Exchanging name, address or insurance information with the other party
- Waiting for a police officer’s arrival
While it’s illegal in virtually every state for motorists to flee the scene of a crash involving property damage or injuries, Kentucky included, there are a variety of reasons drivers might do this, including:
- They weren’t aware of their involvement in a crash, perhaps due to intoxication, vision or hearing problems or distractions
- To seek out emergency medical care oneself
- Because they were driving on a suspended license or didn’t have valid insurance
- There’s a warrant out for their arrest
Here in Kentucky, anyone who leaves the scene of an accident may face Class A misdemeanor charges. Someone who flees a scene involving serious physical injuries or death may face Class D felony charges. Each of these crimes carries with them both fines and potential jail time. However, motorists are given a 10-day grace period to report the incident if they left the scene.
What Should You Do Following a Hit-And-Run Crash?
These crashes occur so unexpectedly that motorists find themselves at a loss for what to do in a hit-and-run. Some effective strategies include:
- Getting information about the other driver: You’ll likely feel disoriented right after the crash. Any information that you can secure about the other motorist or the car, the better. A picture of the vehicle and its damage or license plate is most important in helping police track down the driver involved and hold them accountable for their actions.
- Calling 911: This approach ensures that police will create a record of the incident and perhaps launch a search for the other motorist involved. It also ensures that paramedics will come to render medical aid.
- Identify witnesses: If you’re well enough to do so, then you should try and identify potential witnesses to the crash as you wait for the police or paramedics to arrive. They might have captured a better description of what transpired, the other motorist, and any details about the vehicle. While it’s okay to write this information down, it’s even better if they can stick around and provide a statement to the responding police officer.
You should also notify your insurance company about your accident.
If you asked a Lexington, KY car accident lawyer how to report a hit-and-run, they would likely advise you to be careful not to go into too much depth about the following matters when reporting your incident to your insurance company:
- How the crash transpired
- How badly injured you are
- Your plans for receiving further medical treatment
Your attorney would urge you to take time to assess how you’re feeling and discuss specifics regarding your case with them first so that they could advise you of your rights.
Are You Entitled to Compensation Following a Hit-And-Run Crash?
Your ability to recover compensation to pay for property damage or injury-related costs following a hit-and-run accident may hinge on some of the following factors:
- The insurance coverage that you or the other motorist have
- Who was deemed responsible for the crash
Kentucky is a choice, no-fault insurance state. All motorists must carry insurance at the following limits:
- Bodily injury: $25,000 per person or $50,000 per incident
- Property damage liability: $25,000 per crash
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage: Of equal amount to bodily injury coverage limits
- Personal injury protection (PIP)/no-fault coverage: $10,000 per person
Insureds can reject uninsured motorist coverage when purchasing their policy. Insureds can also opt out of the no-fault insurance system in Kentucky.
You have a few different options for recovering compensation following a hit-and-run crash, as depicted in the following scenarios:
- The other motorist was never identified: You may be able to file a PIP claim to recover medical costs and lost wages. UM bodily injury coverage can be used to pay for you and your passengers’ medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related damages if the other motorist involved left the scene of the crash or has insufficient insurance benefits. UM property damage coverage can cover damage to your vehicle under the same circumstances if you don’t have comprehensive collision benefits.
- The hit-and-run motorist was identified and had valid insurance: You may be eligible to pursue a bodily injury claim with their insurance company if you don’t have PIP coverage or your losses have exceeded those policy limits. You may also be eligible to file a property damage claim with the other at-fault motorist’s insurance carrier.
Your ability to prove liability can impact the choices you have. Kentucky subscribes to the pure comparative negligence doctrine, which means that a plaintiff can’t recover compensation equivalent to their responsibility for the crash. So, for example, if a plaintiff were deemed 80% at fault for a collision, they wouldn’t be able to recover but 20% in damages associated with it.
Does Your Hit-and-Run Case Warrant You To File an Insurance Claim?
Your involvement in a hit-and-run accident can be a bit unnerving. You may find it challenging to make sense of how insurance works. You may also want to hold the driver who struck you accountable for your losses but not know how to do so.
A Lexington, KY car accident lawyer can review your insurance documents to let you know what type of coverage you have and help you sort out the liability necessary to determine what options you have. There are options for recovering your losses. Let the Law Office of Todd W. Burris let you know what yours are. Fill out our contact form today.