What Are Your Remedies if You’re Hurt in a Hit and Run?
Suffering injuries as a result of someone else’s careless driving is always a devastating experience, but worse still is when a driver that causes your injuries leaves the scene and refuses to take responsibility. If you were hit by a hit-and-run driver, it is more difficult but still possible to obtain compensation for your losses.
A driver may flee after an accident for multiple reasons, such as drunkenness, drug influence, criminal activity or fear of legal consequences. Sometimes a driver is oblivious to the fact that they have caused damage. Leaving the scene is a criminal offense in California, which can subject the driver to fines and prison time. Unfortunately, this does not help the injured person in a civil suit seeking damages.
If you were able to get the license plate number of the vehicle that left the scene, the driver may be located and a lawsuit may be pursued. Even if the driver can’t be found immediately, your right to sue may be preserved. There is a two-year statute of limitations for filing an automobile injury suit, but that time period stops running while the hit-and-run driver is at large. If and when the driver is found, you will still have time to bring suit. If the driver is in prison — for leaving the scene or any other offense — the limitations period is tolled for two years or until he or she is released, whichever is sooner.
However, If the driver can’t be located, there are still remedies available. These include:
- Uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) — Your own insurance policy may provide uninsured motorist coverage, which is designed to compensate you when you are harmed by a driver who doesn’t have liability insurance. UIM coverage can also be used in the case of a hit and run. The limits are typically at least $30,000 but could be as high as the limits of your liability coverage.
- Collision coverage — Your insurance policy provides for reimbursing you for the costs of repairing vehicle damage suffered in an accident. In California, you’re required to have collision coverage of at least $5,000. This coverage can be used when an unknown driver hits you and causes vehicle damage.
- Suits against third parties — Under California law, any party responsible for causing an accident may be sued for the resulting damages. Parties who may share in liability include drivers of other vehicles involved, government authorities responsible for road maintenance, road construction contractors, vehicle manufacturers and vehicle maintenance providers.
At Patterson Law in Santa Barbara, we have been handling California personal injury matters for more than three decades, including hit-and-run accident cases. We will do everything in our power to ensure that you get compensated for the harm you have suffered. Arrange a free consultation by calling 888-479-4589 or by contacting us online.