Victim of Hit and Run Accident - Who Covers the Expenses?
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Listen To This Page:
- What You Should Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
- What happens when you can’t identify who hit you?
- Frequency of Hit and Run accidents each year
- What does insurance cover in a hit-and-run accident?
- Do I have to pay my collision deductible after a hit-and-run?
- Are you at fault in a hit-and-run accident as the victim?
- Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Lawyer
Experiencing a hit-and-run collision is both emotionally and physically taxing.
Knowing how to handle expenses can offer peace of mind during a challenging time.
With clarity on who bears the costs, you can more effectively focus on recovery and other pressing matters.
Colburn Hintze Maletta, an Arizona-based personal injury law firm, seeks to provide insight into this matter.
Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) lay down specific legal obligations and rights for victims of hit-and-run accidents. These statutes not only require that such incidents be reported but also define the potential coverage options for victims under various insurance policies.
The laws in Arizona dealing with fault in vehicular accidents can affect compensation and recovery processes.
What You Should Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you’ve been a hit and run accident victim, taking the right steps after the accident can help your case, such as:
- Prioritize Safety: Before anything else, make sure you’re safe. Move your vehicle to the side of the road if it’s possible and safe to do so. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
- Call for Help: Dial 911 immediately. Even if you feel okay, it’s critical to have a medical evaluation for any injuries that may not be apparent at the moment. A police report is crucial when dealing with insurance companies and potential legal action.
- Document the Scene: Use your phone to take photographs of your vehicle, the scene of the accident, and any injuries you’ve sustained. These images serve as evidence and can be valuable in your case.
- Gather Witness Information: If any bystanders saw the car accident, get their contact details. Witnesses can play an essential role in substantiating your claim.
- Note Details About the Fleeing Vehicle: Remember and note down as many details as possible about the car that hit you—license plate, make, model, color, or any distinguishing features.
- Report to Police: Arizona law, particularly ARS §28-661, requires that hit-and-run accidents be reported to the police. Provide them with all the information you’ve gathered.
- Notify Your Insurance Company: Contact your auto insurance provider as soon as possible to inform them of the incident. Filing a claim is generally smoother when you report the accident promptly.
- Consult a Personal Injury Attorney: To fully understand your rights and the compensation you may be entitled to, consult an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney who can guide you through the complexities of the law.
These steps are good practice and aligned with Arizona Revised Statutes that govern motor vehicle accidents. Your immediate actions can impact your ability to claim insurance successfully and you may be able to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator, should they be identified later.
Does Insurance Cover a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Being a victim of a hit-and-run accident can be particularly stressful because the responsible party has fled the scene.
But in Arizona, specific insurance coverages might assist you in such situations.
Knowing the types of coverage that can be beneficial will equip you to deal with the financial burdens you may encounter.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM): This type of coverage is invaluable if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run. It covers the cost of medical bills, pain, suffering, and lost wages. However, you must report the incident to the police for UM to be applicable, per Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §20-259.01
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): Similar to UM coverage, UIM also covers when the at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t enough to pay for your expenses. While this is more applicable when the at-fault driver is identified, it can still be a safety net in hit-and-run cases if the driver is later found but lacks sufficient insurance.
- Collision Coverage: This is optional coverage that you can add to your car insurance policy. It helps to cover the repair or replacement of your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. It can be especially useful when the perpetrator is not found in a hit-and-run situation.
- Medical Payments Coverage: Also known as Med Pay, this coverage can assist with medical expenses for you and your passengers regardless of fault. It’s an optional coverage in Arizona and works as a supplement to your health insurance.
- Comprehensive Coverage: While not directly designed for hit-and-run incidents, comprehensive coverage can sometimes be used for scenarios where your car was hit while parked, and the responsible party is nowhere to be found.
It’s important to act quickly and consult your insurance policy as soon as possible after the accident. Timely reporting and evidence collection can significantly affect the claims process. Some insurance policies stipulate the time frame within which you must report a hit-and-run for the coverage to be applicable.
Some insurance policies stipulate the time frame within which you must report a hit-and-run for the coverage to be applicable.
To make sure you’re fully protected and understand the fine print of your insurance policy, it’s best to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer. They can guide you through the legal pathways and help you take the best course of action.
Do I have to Pay My Insurance Deductible After a Hit-and-Run?
If you are a hit-and-run accident victim, one of the immediate concerns is likely financial. You might wonder whether you’ll have to pay your collision deductible to repair your vehicle.
The answer can vary based on several factors, which include:
- Insurance Policy Terms: Review your insurance policy carefully. Some policies may waive the deductible for hit-and-run incidents if you report the event to the police.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: If you have Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) coverage, this may cover your deductible, depending on your policy and the laws of Arizona.
- State Laws: Arizona does not mandate waiving the deductible for hit-and-run incidents. However, some insurance companies may offer this as part of their coverage options.
- Fault Determination: If you were partially at fault for the accident, this could impact whether you have to pay the deductible. Arizona follows a comparative negligence rule, meaning your compensation can be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to you.
- Success in Identifying the Offender: If the responsible party is later identified and has insurance, their insurance could cover your damages, including your deductible. However, this is often a lengthy process and not guaranteed.
Are You At Fault in a Hit-and-Run Accident as the Victim?
Arizona follows a “fault” system, which means the person who caused the car accident is typically responsible for the damages. According to ARS 28-672, causing serious physical injury or death by a moving violation is punishable under Arizona law.
Some Factors Include:
- Right of Way: Did you have the right of way at the time of the accident? Violating traffic laws, such as running a red light or ignoring a stop sign, could complicate your case.
- Driving Behavior: Were you recklessly speeding, tailgating, or driving? Even if another vehicle hit you and fled, your own driving behavior could be scrutinized when determining fault.
- Vehicle Condition: Was your vehicle in good working order? Issues like broken tail lights or failing to signal can have an impact on the assessment of fault in an accident.
- Reporting the Incident: Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §28-661 requires you to report the hit-and-run incident promptly to law enforcement agencies. Failing to do so could negatively affect your case and potential to claim compensation.
- Evidence and Witnesses: The presence or absence of credible witnesses and physical evidence can also affect whether you share any degree of fault in the accident. Sometimes, even the victim can be partially blamed based on the evidence presented.
What Happens When You Can’t Identify Who Hit You?
In a hit-and-run accident, being unable to identify the responsible party presents a unique set of challenges. Under these circumstances, your options for financial recovery may be limited, but they aren’t non-existent.
Under these circumstances, your options for financial recovery may be limited, but they aren’t non-existent.
Below are some factors to consider:
- Your Own Insurance Policy: If the person who hit you isn’t identified, your own insurance policy becomes the primary source for covering damages. Depending on the specific terms, you may be able to claim under Uninsured Motorist Coverage or your collision coverage.
- Police Investigation: While it’s not guaranteed, there’s always a possibility that ongoing police investigations could identify the perpetrator later on. If this occurs, their insurance—if they have any—may cover your expenses.
- Legal Requirements: According to Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §28-661, failing to stop at the scene of an accident is a criminal offense. If the offender is eventually caught, this may open up new avenues for you to seek compensation through legal means.
- Community Resources: Some localities offer victim compensation funds for hit-and-run victims, although these are typically for more severe cases involving serious injury or death.
- Civil Lawsuit: If the offender is identified later, you could potentially file a civil lawsuit against them. However, this generally requires sufficient evidence linking them to the incident.
Hit-and-Run Accident Statistics
Hit-and-run incidents are unfortunately not uncommon, and their frequency highlights the necessity of being prepared and informed. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there were 737,100 hit-and-run crashes nationwide in 2015 alone, averaging one hit-and-run incident every 43 seconds. Although this is a national figure, it underscores the urgency of this issue even within the state of Arizona.
In 2017, the Arizona Department of Transportation recorded a total of 15,014 hit-and-run incidents. Tragically, 64 of these accidents proved fatal. Additionally, 2,900 of them led to injuries for the involved parties. Surprisingly, a significant number, 12,050 to be exact, only caused property damage.
Notably, pedestrians and cyclists are the most common victims affected by hit and run injuries.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Lawyer
If you’ve been involved in a hit and run accident, consulting with an experienced Arizona personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and options under Arizona law. At Colburn Hintze Maletta, we specialize in personal injury cases and can provide you with the guidance you need.
The best way to explore your situation and plan your best course of action is to talk to an experienced attorney. We are happy to offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case’s details. Please feel free to call us at (602) 825-2500 to book your appointment.
Attorney Darin Colburn has experienced first-hand just how difficult going through a family law matter such as divorce is when his parents divorced when he was 6 years old. Twenty years later, he has devoted his entire legal career to helping those facing similar issues. Darin attended the University of Arizona and graduated Cum Laude from the Eller College of Management. Darin is an experienced trial attorney that excels in high-net-worth divorce, complex business valuations, and messy child custody disputes.
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On one of the worst and most surreal nights of my life (do not EVER get a DUI people!) I was lucky enough to find my way to Tim Hintze. Being in Phoenix for the Thanksgiving holiday from out of town, and after spending the evening with family, I ended up spending the night in jail.
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