If you drive, bike or walk in Los Angeles County, there is a good chance you will be a hit-and-run accident victim. After an increase in hit-and-runs in the Los Angeles area in 2015-2016, a local news station studied California Highway Patrol (CHP) car crash data. The reporters found more than 28,000 reported hit-and-run accidents in Los Angeles County in 2015. In fact, half of all traffic incidents in Los Angeles County are hit-and-run cases, compared to a national average of 11%.
While most hit-and-run collisions involve parked vehicles, in LA County in 2015 almost 7,000 hit-and-run incidents caused severe injuries or death.
Who pays for damages in a hit-and-run accident?
In most hit-and-run accidents, there is no driver to recover damages from. The Los Angeles Police Department only identifies drivers in about 20% of hit-and-run cases. Victims of the other 80% either make a claim under their own insurance policy, or need to pay their own bills.
You can file a claim with your insurance company and avoid having to pay all the damages yourself. That is if you have uninsured motorist coverage (UM). UM coverage pays all financial and non-financial damages if you are hit by an uninsured at-fault driver. When a hit-and-run driver can not be found, the insurance company treats him as an uninsured driver.
UM Coverage is optional coverage that insurance companies must offer when you buy auto insurance. California law requires drivers to have liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage they cause to others. UM coverage, which protects drivers from bodily injury and property damage others cause them, is often declined to save money, even though the cost of UM Coverage is inexpensive.
What does uninsured motorist insurance cover?
Your auto insurance policy terms explain the maximum amount the insurance company will pay you, what they will pay you for, and under what circumstances. UMC applies when an uninsured driver hits you while you are driving, walking, or riding a bike. This coverage extends to everyone who is on your policy. UMC pays all direct financial expenses such as car repairs and medical bills. It also compensates you for non-financial expenses such as pain and suffering.
When you purchased your auto insurance, you agreed to a policy limit. That is the maximum amount the insurance company agrees to pay. Under California law, UMC Coverage limits cannot be higher than your liability insurance limits.
Even when your UMC Coverage limits are high enough to cover your damages, the insurance company may disagree with your determination of how much they owe you.
How do I get my insurance company to fully compensate me after a hit-and-run accident?
Insurance companies always try to pay the least amount possible to accident victims. That includes your own insurance company. They will offer to pay what they think your damages are worth. This amount is usually lower than the full value of your present and future financial and non-financial costs.
Claims adjusters know car accident victims are in a vulnerable position. While you are recovering from your injuries, bills may pile up, especially if you can’t work. During this time, many victims don’t have the stamina to fight about how much the insurance company will pay. That is why it is important for hit-and-run accident victims to bring in an experienced attorney who is familiar with UM Claims.
He will get the insurance company to fully compensate you for all damages resulting from the crash. That includes non-financial costs. A skilled attorney knows how to translate your experiences into language and numbers the insurance company understands.
For example, only you know how your injuries have affected your ability to play with your kids or take your parents to lunch on the week-ends. You realize that missing work not only affects your income now, but could get you passed over for a future promotion. The cost of these lost experiences and lost opportunities are unique to you. You deserve an advocate who understands that and can convince the insurance company to see the losses from your perspective.
What You Can Do To Improve Your Chances for Recovering Damages After a Hit-and-Run Accident
- Get Information About the Fleeing Driver
To hold a driver accountable for damage and injuries, he must be found. Note the make, model, color and license plate number of the fleeing car. Notice the driver’s identifying features like sex, race, age, hair color, facial hair, tattoos, etc.
- Get Contact Information for Witnesses
Find people who saw the accident. Get their name, phone number(s), mailing address and email address.
- Call the police
Get the name of the officer, the police department handling scene and the report number.
- Record Information About the Hit-and-Run Accident Scene
Take photos or video of the accident scene. Include identifying information like street signs and nearby places of business.
If the accident was in an intersection, get photos from all four corners. If there is a speed limit sign nearby, get a photo of that. Video is excellent for recording traffic flow and speed.
- Get Medical Attention
Get medical care as soon as possible after the car crash. Even if your injuries are minor, get a professional medical exam. Having a medical exam right after the accident helps build your case later if your injuries turn out to be more serious then you initially thought.
- Talk to a Lawyer
An experienced advocate who regularly represents hit-and-run accident victims knows how to assess and investigate these accidents. Guidance and advice from a car accident attorney is especially helpful in a situation where the other driver left the scene. Getting compensation from your insurance company can be difficult and complicated so you want a strong advocate on your side.
- Contact Your Insurance Company
Notify your insurance company after consulting with an experienced hit-and-run attorney.
A Long Beach Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
If you were injured in an auto accident where the driver left the scene, you are entitled to compensation from the person at fault. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you are entitled to full compensation from your insurance company if the at-fault driver isn’t found.
I take your injuries personally and will handle every aspect of your case. Your pain and suffering is unique to you and you deserve personalized representation. I will use my 35 years of experience fighting for accident victims to ensure you are properly compensated.
I offer a free consultation by phone in English or Spanish to evaluate your case. You will be under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover compensation for your losses.
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