Getting in a car accident can easily ruin anyone’s day. But if you’re involved in a hit-and-run, the experience can be incredibly overwhelming. If you’ve been hurt in one of these types of accidents, you may be wondering what your options are. Here’s what you need to know:
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run is when one party flees the scene of the crash after an accident, even if it’s only a fender bender. A driver might leave the scene for several reasons, including:
- They don’t have a car insurance policy.
- They’re already breaking the law.
- They’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- They don’t own the vehicle they’re driving.
Dos and Don’ts After A Hit-and-Run Accident
After a car accident, you need to pay close attention to the steps you take immediately after. One wrong move, and the insurance company can use this information to minimize your settlement or deny your claim altogether. Below are valuable do’s and don’ts to follow after you are injured in a hit-and-run car accident:
DON’T attempt to follow the fleeing driver. Even if you didn’t cause the accident, leaving the scene could put you in a compromising position. You may miss out on getting eyewitness accounts, and it may be questionable who’s at fault. Lastly, without knowing the other driver’s demeanor, you run the risk of putting yourself in a dangerous situation.
DO call 911 if you or someone in your car is injured.
DON’T wait to call the police to file a report. An official accident report will be useful when you file your accident claim.
DO document as much information as possible, including license plate number, the make, model, and color of the other vehicle, description of any damage to the vehicles, which direction the other car was headed, photos of damage to your car, and the location, date, time of the accident.
DO seek out witnesses and ask if they can offer any additional information about the accident. If a witness gives you or the police a statement, take down their names and contact information.
Does Car Insurance Cover a Hit-and-Run Accident?
If police can identify the other driver, their insurance company can help pay for the damages after an accident. However, many hit-and-run drivers are never identified, which means you cannot use their liability coverage for car repairs or medical bills. In the case of a hit-and-run, odds are you’ll need to file a claim with your insurance company. Whether the collision is covered depends on the coverages in your policy. Based on where you live, the following coverages may be required or optional:
- Collision coverage
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage
- Uninsured motorist property damage coverage
- Medical expense coverage
- Personal injury protection
Keep in mind that these coverages may have limits. This means that there is a maximum amount that your policy will pay for a covered claim. Depending on your policy, you may have to pay out of pocket for expenses that exceed your coverage limits. That’s why it’s best always to make sure you have more protection than you think you need.
If the insurance company is not making you a fair offer or is not following policy guidelines or laws on claims processing, it’s best to contact an experienced car accident attorney for assistance to negotiate with the insurance agent to resolve your case. Your attorney can help you to try to convince the insurer to pay the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Penalties for a Hit-and-Run Accident in NC
In North Carolina, leaving an accident scene can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. The specific charge the fleeing driver will face depends on the severity of injuries sustained in the accident and the other driver’s existing criminal record.
Misdemeanor hit-and-run charges: Suppose an accident only results in property damage or minimal injury to another individual. In that case, the fleeing driver will be charged with misdemeanor hit and run charges for leaving the scene of the accident. This is a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine.
Felony hit-and-run charges: A hit-and-run accident which results in an injury is a Class H Felony, punishable by 4 to 25 months in jail, costly fines, and suspension of the driver’s license. A hit-and-run accident causing severe bodily injury or death is considered a Class F Felony, which is punishable by 10 to 41 months in jail, expensive fines, and suspension of a driver’s license. North Carolina statutes define severe bodily injury as a “bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or causes permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ that results in prolonged hospitalization.”
Experienced North Carolina Hit-and-Run Attorneys
We know that after a car accident, you may be facing a pile of medical bills, lost wages, and calls from the insurance company. At Daggett Shuler, our loyalty and obligation lie with you, not the insurance company. Our attorneys are determined to settle your car accident claim as effectively, efficiently, and fairly as possible. We’ll work hard to establish the maximum recovery that you deserve. For a FREE case evaluation, call us at 336-724-1234 or submit the form below today.
You Can Depend on Daggett Shuler.