What to Do If You’re In a Hit and Run Accident
A fatal hit-and-run accident this past September on I-95 South in Attleboro, Massachusetts, is still unresolved as police search for a white Cadillac Esplanade that a surveillance camera captured fleeing the scene. Police also described the driver and reported that the subject vehicle might have front end damage and a missing headlight. The unfortunate victim was a homeless individual. Reports did not indicate if the victim had been walking on the highway, though the location of the accident would suggest that. Pedestrians are not allowed to be walking or wandering on interstate highways.
Regardless of the obvious risks in walking on a highway unless you are a stranded motorist seeking assistance and have no other options, there is no excuse for anyone to flee an accident scene. All motorists are required to exchange driver’s license, registration, and insurance information with other involved motorists, or to leave such information on an unattended vehicle if it was damaged. In the case of an injured pedestrian, the motorist must alert police by calling 911 or at least driving to the nearest police station if a phone is unavailable. Fleeing the scene is a misdemeanor with a mandatory jail sentence if there was an injury. It is a felony if there was a fatal injury.
What to Do if You Are a Victim
If you were a pedestrian or motorist injured in a hit-and-run accident, there are certain things you should or even must do if you present a claim for damages. If the responsible motorist is not found, you can still collect compensation under the uninsured (UM) motorist provision of your own auto liability policy or that of a household member.
Here are some suggestions to follow under these circumstances:
- If your vehicle was damaged, you need to prove that another vehicle caused the accident, damage and injuries. Immediately report the accident from the scene to law enforcement and obtain a police report when it becomes available.
- Promptly inform your insurance company. A property damage expert will examine your car for signs of recent damage and determine if your version of events is consistent with the damage.
- If the accident was in an urban area, it is possible that there was surveillance footage. Police in very serious or fatal accidents will often canvass the area to see if stores and businesses may have recorded the accident as it apparently did in the Attleboro accident.
- Take photographs of the property damage and the area where the accident occurred.
- Take photographs of your injuries if visible.
- If there are witnesses or any individuals who came to your assistance after the accident, obtain their name and contact information. Even if the person did not witness the accident, the person can confirm that you were apparently in an accident and observed your demeanor and injuries.
- Immediately seek medical treatment. If you delay, you may face difficulty in proving your injuries were caused in the accident or that you were injured at all.
- Seek legal representation from an experienced Massachusetts hit-and-run lawyer.
In a UM claim, your own insurer is now your adversary. You still have the burden of proving that the unknown motorist was the cause of your accident, that you were not liable, and that your injuries were caused by the accident. The only difference between pursuing a third-party claim and a UM one is that such claims are not decided by a jury but in binding arbitration. There is still discovery that entails the request for documents, your being subject to a physical examination by a physician of the UM insurer’s choice, depositions, and any motions to exclude evidence. All of this needs to be handled by a skilled and knowledgeable hit-and-run lawyer from the law offices of Burns and Jain.
Damages in a Hit-and-Run Accident
Damages in any accident depend on the nature and extent of your injuries. They may include:
- Medical expenses
- Past and future loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income capacity
- Permanent impairment or disfigurement
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
In a wrongful death claim in Massachusetts, the action is brought by the administrator for the immediate members of the decedent’s family. Damages in these claims may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses for emergency services and final treatment and care
- Lost potential income over the working life of the decedent
- Loss of the decedent’s love and companionship
- Pain and suffering of the decedent if he was visibly observed to have suffered prior to his death
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent
Retain Hit-and-Run Lawyers Burns and Jain
If you follow the steps outlined here, you will have a much greater opportunity of obtaining the most compensation available for your claim. Most hit-and-run accident claims revolve around issues of whether another vehicle was involved or if you can prove fault. Another issue is proof of damages. By having a hit-and-run lawyer from Burns and Jain handle your case, you can be assured that these issues will be satisfactorily addressed and handled.