Who Pays for My Damages and Injuries in a Hit-and-Run Accident?

Who Pays for My Damages and Injuries in a Hit-and-Run Accident?

Your insurer may pay for your damages and injuries in a hit-and-run accident. If police can locate the motorist who caused your accident and that motorist has insurance, then their insurer may cover your accident-related losses.

If it makes financial sense, you may also sue the hit-and-run motorist. An experienced car accident attorney can explain your options for seeking compensation after a hit-and-run accident.

Who Pays for My Damages and Injuries in a Hit-and-Run Accident Guide

Factors That Determine How a Hit-and-Run Accident Victim Seeks Compensation 

Who Pays for My Damages and Injuries in a Hit-and-Run Accident

There is no single answer to how a hit-and-run accident victim seeks compensation for their damages (or, in insurance terms, losses). Your attorney will consider several factors when developing a strategy for your case, with those factors including:

Whether Your Insurance Policy Includes Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Regarding whose insurer pays for an accident, Texas is an at-fault state. Other states, such as Florida, are no-fault insurance states. In an at-fault insurance state, the insurer for the motorist at-fault for the collision covers the victim’s accident-related damages, including medical expenses and property damage.

When the at-fault motorist leaves the accident scene, you must often turn to your insurer. Uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory in Texas, but your insurer must offer this coverage in Texas. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may access it when a hit-and-run driver causes property damage, injuries, and other losses.

Whether Law Enforcement Officials Identify the Hit-and-Run Driver

If law enforcement does not locate the motorist who left your accident scene, turning to your insurance may be the only option for seeking compensation.

If law enforcement officials identify the motorist who hit your vehicle and fled, you may:

  • File a third-party insurance claim with their insurer seeking coverage for medical bills, property damage, and any other covered losses
  • Sue the motorist for damages

Law enforcement officials may locate the at-fault motorist by:

  • Speaking with you about the description of the motorist and their vehicle
  • Asking you and eyewitnesses if they saw the license plate number
  • Reviewing footage from traffic cameras, security cameras, and other video sources to identify the driver or vehicle 

With abundant cameras in most high-traffic areas, law enforcement officials can determine who the at-fault motorist is. That motorist may face financial liability for your accident-related damages and criminal charges for fleeing the scene.

The Nature and Severity of Your Injuries

More severe injuries will cost more to treat.

This is logical, as serious injuries may:

  • Require costly medical services, including emergency care, surgery, and hospitalization.
  • Require a long period of rehabilitation, which can also be expensive.
  • Increase your health insurance premiums.
  • Cause you to miss a substantial period of work, resulting in lost income and other professional damages.
  • Cause immense pain and suffering, including chronic pain, the loss of physical or cognitive abilities, scarring, and disfigurement.
  • Result in a disability, which may require you to make changes to your home (or change where you live), purchase specialized equipment, and completely alter how you live your life.

The cost of significant injuries may exceed an insurance policy’s coverage limits. Therefore, your attorney may advise you to sue the motorist who caused you to suffer such significant damages.

Your attorney may simply calculate the cost of your accident-related damages and compare the figure to insurance coverage. If your damages exceed insurance coverage, your lawyer may advise you to sue.

When Suing a Hit-and-Run Motorist May Be Appropriate

You may sue to seek compensation after a hit-and-run accident, but only if:

  • Law enforcement officials (or your lawyer) identify the motorist who left the accident scene, which may lead your attorney to other liable parties (such as an employer)
  • Insurance does not adequately cover your accident-related losses
  • The financial assets of the liable party or parties make a lawsuit worthwhile
  • Your attorney will also consider a lawsuit if insurance companies refuse to provide all of the compensation you deserve. Your losses can fall within the coverage limits, but your attorney may sue the insurer if a liable insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement.

    Because of these considerations, there is no blanket answer for whether suing is the right tactic for a hit-and-run accident victim. You can work with your lawyer to consider all relevant factors and determine if a lawsuit makes sense for your case.

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    Why Do Motorists Leave the Scene of an Accident?

    The reason a motorist left your accident scene can be relevant to your case. For example, if the motorist fled because they lacked insurance, you will be unable to seek compensation from their insurer—they don’t have an insurer.

    As law enforcement officials and your attorney investigate your accident, they may discover that:

    • The motorist lacked insurance: Uninsured motorists sometimes make a worse poor decision by fleeing the scene of an accident. If the motorist did not have insurance, this can indicate how you seek compensation for accident-related damages.
    • An intoxicated motorist crashed into you: Intoxicated driving remains a significant problem. If a motorist is drunk, under the influence of drugs, or in possession of alcohol or drugs illegally, they may flee the accident scene for fear of law enforcement arriving. However, these motorists may have insurance (or substantial personal assets) that allow you to file a claim with their insurer or sue them for damages.
    • The motorist panicked: Motorists may flee an accident scene because they lack experience with accidents, don’t understand driving laws, or simply panic in a stressful situation. None of these are acceptable reasons for fleeing a collision scene, but they are reasons why motorists hit and run.
    • The motorist was committing a crime: If a motorist was committing a crime (such as driving a stolen vehicle), they might flee an accident scene.

    Your attorney will consider every relevant detail of the accident and damages as they form a strategy for your case.

    Are Hit-and-Run Accidents Common?

    While there are limited statistics about the frequency of hit-and-run accidents, data suggests that hit-and-run accidents often have a substantial cost. Hit-and-run accidents in the United States claimed 2,872 lives in a single year, and countless other victims suffered serious injuries because of drivers who left the accident scene.

    It does not necessarily matter how common hit-and-run accidents are. What matters is that you have been involved in one and need fair compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.

    There Is a Silver Lining Behind the High Rate of Hit-and-Run Accidents

    While not experiencing a hit-and-run accident is always preferable, there is a silver lining. Insurers and policyholders know that there are dangerous, irrational, and uninsured motorists on the road at all times.

    For this reason, many motorists purchase uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage to protect against hit-and-run accidents (and similar events).

    If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it can prove immensely valuable in the aftermath of a hit-and-run collision.

    Why It Is Critical, You Get Justice for Your Hit-and-Run Accident

    You deserve justice for damages you’ve suffered in a hit-and-run accident for several reasons.

    Those reasons include:

    • The fact that you followed the rules: You stayed at the accident scene, ensured that the proper authorities received notice, and provided your account of the accident. You did the right thing. You deserve insurance companies (and perhaps the at-fault motorist) to do right by you, covering your accident-related losses.
    • The fleeing motorist’s disregard for your safety: When a motorist flees the scene of an accident, they aren’t just breaking the law and seeking to avoid the consequences of their reckless actions. Hit-and-run motorists endanger the lives of those they strike. Rather than checking on the victim and calling for medical attention, they simply leave. This sort of callous behavior cannot go without justice.
    • Your economic damages: Motor vehicle accidents cause financial harm, including but not limited to vehicle damage and medical bills. You should not have to pay for this harm out of your own pocket if you did not cause the accident.
    • Your non-economic damages: Accident victims often suffer non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. You deserve fair compensation for these damages just as you do for your economic harm.

    The only way to discourage motorists from fleeing the scene of an accident is to hold them accountable. Even if your attorney cannot identify the at-fault motorist, you deserve fair compensation for your accident-related damages.

    How a Car Accident Attorney Will Fight for the Financial Recovery You Deserve

    You can hire a car accident lawyer to lead your hit-and-run accident case.

    Many accident victims hire a lawyer because:

    • Their injuries prevent them from dedicating time or effort to a claim or lawsuit
    • They lack experience negotiating with insurance companies 
    • They believe an experienced attorney can present a stronger case
    • Their mental health is fragile 
    • They want the law firm to cover the cost of the case (as injury firms generally do)

    There may be other reasons for hiring a lawyer. If you choose to have a car accident lawyer seek compensation for your hit-and-run accident, expect your legal team to:

    Your attorney will detail your accident with any available:

    • Video footage of the collision
    • Eyewitness accounts
    • Photographs of the accident scene, including damage to your vehicle
    • Police report 
    • Evidence that helps your case for compensation 

    Evidence may lead your attorney, or investigating police officers, to the motorist who fled your accident scene. In any case, the evidence may be necessary to secure the compensation you deserve.

    Calculate Your Damages

    Your attorney will calculate the financial cost of your accident-related damages. They will consider economic damages (such as vehicle repairs) and non-economic damages (such as pain caused by injuries).

    Your lawyer will document your damages to the greatest possible extent. They may use medical bills, proof of lost income, and any other type of available documentation to prove the cost of your accident.

    Examine Your Insurance Policy (and Deal with Insurers)

    Your attorney will review your insurance policy to determine:

    • Whether you have coverage for a hit-and-run accident
    • What are the limits for applicable coverages
    • Whether pursuing an insurance claim is a viable option in light of the cost of your damages

    Your lawyer will speak with insurance representatives to clarify your policy details if necessary.

    Monitor Law Enforcement’s Investigation Into the Fleeing Motorist

    Your attorney may work with law enforcement officials in search of the fleeing motorist. If they can locate the motorist, you may have the option of filing a lawsuit against them or a claim with their insurer.

    Develop a Strategy for Your Case

    After collecting all relevant facts and evidence, your attorney will develop the strategy for your case. This strategy can include either an insurance claim or a lawsuit, and the plan is subject to change as your case unfolds.

    Negotiate with Financially Liable Parties

    Your attorney will negotiate for a fair settlement. One or more insurance companies may occupy the other side of the negotiating table.

    Proceed to Court if Necessary

    If circumstances lead your attorney to trial, they may fight for your financial recovery in a courtroom.

    Recoverable Damages for Victims of Hit-and-Run Accidents

    Your lawyer will seek complete coverage of your accident-related damages, which may include:

    • Medical expenses
    • Pain and suffering
    • Psychological and emotional treatment
    • Lost income
    • Diminished earning power
    • Vehicle repairs
    • Replacement of damaged clothing, electronics, and other property
    • Any other economic or non-economic harm resulting from your accident

    A personal injury attorney will consider the total scope of your damages and then fight for your financial recovery.

    Don’t Wait to Find Your Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer

    Attorneys in Texas and other states generally face a time limit for filing hit-and-run accident cases. Identify and retain your attorney as soon as possible so such deadlines do not expire.