Hit and run accidents can often be some of the worst types of accidents. In a hit and run accident a driver can hit another motorist, pedestrian, or obstacle causing damage and possible injury, however, the driver responsible for the accident leaves the scene without taking any responsibility for their actions. When these types of accidents occur the victims may need legal advice to help them receive compensation for their injuries, either from the hit and run driver if they are located or from their own insurance company in the form of an uninsured motorist claim (UM claim).
California Law on Hit-And-Run Accidents
Despite being against the law, hit and run accidents take place on a daily basis. Many factors contribute to the abundance of hit and run accidents, however, a couple of the more common reasons seem to relate to unlicensed or illegal drivers as well as the fear of driving under the influence (DUI) penalties. In California, the law is very clearly that any driver involved in an accident should not leave the scene when an injury has occurred:
The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall fulfill the requirements of Sections 20003 and 20004.
Source: VEHICLE CODE SECTION 20000-20018
Pedestrians and Cyclists Involved in Hit-And-Run Crashes
Unfortunately, pedestrians and cyclists are especially vulnerable to hit and run accidents. Pedestrians and cyclists who are hit are often injured or even killed as a result of the hit and run and left by the person driving the vehicle. Such was the case of Donovan Maldonado who was hit and killed by former Central High basketball coach Loren LeBeau in July 2012. It is a terrible crime to hit and injure, or possibly kill, someone without even stopping to assist them or inquire about their injuries.
However, even if the driver responsible for the hit and run is never located, pedestrians and cyclists may still have the ability to seek financial compensation through their own auto insurance if they have uninsured motorist coverage. If the driver of the vehicle is found and does not have sufficient insurance coverage to compensate the injured person, it may be possible to submit a claim in the form of an under-insured motorist claim (UIM).
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Even if the driver responsible for a hit and run accident is never located victims still have hope. Uninsured motorist coverage under the victim’s own auto policy may cover damages to their vehicle as well as their personal injuries. It is important to understand that even if you were not in your vehicle and you were hit by another driver if you have uninsured motorist coverage it may cover you. Uninsured motorist coverage can pay for medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy, property damage, and pain and suffering.
As is the case with most insurance companies they will seek to pay out the lowest possible amount and attempt to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. When dealing with insurance companies it is often advised that you utilize the services of an experienced hit and run lawyer that can help you obtain the best possible settlement from your insurance company. Having an experienced auto injury attorney on your side can often make a difference in the amount of financial compensation you receive.