If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident in Southern Maryland, you likely have a lot of questions, such as how you are going to be compensated for your losses.
In a “normal” accident case, the two parties are the injured person and the person who caused the accident. The at-fault party’s insurance company pays for the injuries suffered by the injured person, and everyone moves on.
When the person responsible for the injuries flees the scene, that plan doesn’t work.
Why Hit and Run Accidents Happen
People may flee the scene of an accident for various reasons. They may be impaired, intoxicated, or driving without a license or insurance. A person may leave the scene unaware that they caused an accident. They may have caused an accident without touching another vehicle or object.
Sometimes, you or another person may be lucky enough to get a complete or partial tag number. Using this information, the police could track down the at-fault party. If you report the accident quickly enough, the police can post a lookout and nab the at-fault party.
Responding to a Hit and Run Accident
If you have been in a hit-and-run accident, you can make a claim against your insurance policy to recover compensation for your injuries and property damage. All insurance policies in Maryland require a minimum of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage provided for personal injuries, which covers medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.
You can and should purchase more uninsured motorist protection than the required minimums. We recommend obtaining at least $250,000 in uninsured motorist coverage.
Additionally, you should purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of your auto insurance policy.
When you make an uninsured motorist claim, your insurance company becomes the insurance for the uninsured driver. This might seem counterintuitive. Why should you pay to protect someone who has caused you harm? But it isn’t. The insurance company has to compensate you – the individual who has suffered the loss.
Furthermore, in many cases, your insurance company will seek to recover whatever they pay you from the at-fault party if that party can be identified.
How Hit and Run Accidents Are Resolved
An uninsured motorist claim is similar to a standard car accident claim in how it is resolved. It is simply a different party standing in the shoes of the defendant. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, your insurance company, or the insurance company for the vehicle you were in, will cover your claim.
You are legally entitled to the same compensation you could recover if the at-fault driver were the defendant in the case. What you can recover is typically based on the severity of your injuries and your economic losses. The value of your claim is not affected by who is paying for it.
When a Hit and Run is Not a Hit and Run
In some cases, the party causing the accident flees the scene without having made contact with another vehicle. Maryland attorneys refer to these cases as “phantom vehicle” cases. A phantom vehicle case can occur when another vehicle cuts you off or forces you off the road, resulting in an accident. The at-fault driver may not even be aware that an accident occurred.
Regardless of the nature of the accident, the plaintiff must prove, with sufficient evidence, that the at-fault driver caused them injury. Otherwise, a phantom vehicle case is resolved in the same manner as a hit-and-run.
Only the plaintiff will testify about what happened in a hit-and-run or phantom vehicle case. The person who caused the accident will not be in court to offer the judge or jury an alternative explanation as to how the accident occurred.
Get Expert Legal Help Today
If you’ve been in a hit-and-run accident and are unsure of what to do next, don’t move forward until you’ve had a conversation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.
To meet with our office, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. The law offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz handle accident and injury claims throughout Maryland.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz can assist you if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation for any injury-related claim. The law offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz handle accident and injury claims throughout Maryland.