Being in a car accident is overwhelming, especially for the one who caused the situation. Sometimes, fear overcomes common sense, leading a person to flee the scene. That's called a hit-and-run accident, and it's a serious criminal offense for Illinois drivers.
Being the victim of such car accident cases may have people wondering about their legal rights. What's the average settlement in a situation like this?
Overall, the goal is to get a fair settlement for accident victims, which means finding the other driver if possible and starting a personal injury lawsuit against them. Call the Keating Law Firm for a free consultation or continue reading to find out more about a hit-and-run car accident.
Overview of a Hit-and-Run
Most states say that drivers have to stop immediately after an accident to give information about their auto insurance policy, contact information, and driver's license. That must happen no matter who's at fault. However, when drivers fail to do that, they may face hit-and-run criminal charges as a misdemeanor or felony. The type of offense depends on the auto accident.
What to Do as the Victim
When the injured person realizes they were in a hit-and-run accident, they should protect themselves by:
Call the Police - This step is required for all car accidents, but it's crucial for a hit-and-run car accident. Tell the police what happened so that they may document the crime. Make sure to share details about the other driver, the vehicle, and everything that happened after, before, and during the crash. Request the police report, as well.
Collect Evidence - Police must do their job at the scene, but victims must be proactive and collect evidence to support the claim. Take videos and photos of the damage done, along with images of the traffic levels, road conditions, road signs, and street lights. Nothing is too small when documenting the accident scene. If witnesses can be found, ask them to go on record about the accident. Take audio or video recordings of the account, including their full names and contact information. Eyewitnesses might be the only way for law enforcement to distinguish it as a hit-and-run crash instead of a single-vehicle wreck.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately - If the victim suffered injuries during the car accident, it's crucial to go to a hospital for treatment. Those who are healthy enough not to need an ambulance should still go to a family doctor or urgent care facility. Don't worry about health insurance coverage immediately. Waiting a long time for injury documentation means it's harder to convince the insurance company that the issues happened during the collision. Even if there were no serious injuries, medical treatment should still be provided. Generally, most injuries don't occur immediately—just like a brain bleed from a car accident or bad headaches after the car accident.
File the Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claim - File an uninsured motorist claim with the insurance company after the accident. Most states require this for crashes involving underinsured, uninsured, and hit-and-run motorists. It's important to provide documentation and evidence of the wreck and damages so that the insurance company can pay out the claim. However, some drivers don't get uninsured motorist insurance coverage. Without it, the victim is required to shoulder the financial responsibility themselves unless the police find the responsible party to file a claim through their insurance.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney - Every accident is different, and that's very true for hit-and-run situations where various factors can change the outcome. It's hard to seek justice when it's unknown who caused the problem. Though some people feel helpless, there are options. Generally speaking, car accident lawyers help victims understand their rights and the steps to take after the incident.
Who's at Fault to Pay the Car Accident Injury Settlement?
If the at-fault party fled the scene, they're considered to blame for the accident. That might not always be the case, but it's hard to prove who caused the problem if one of the parties leaves. If someone hits another vehicle and the victim leaves, that's not a hit-and-run accident. Regardless, it's best to get a free consultation with a car accident attorney to determine average settlement amounts.
Phantom drivers cause the accident without touching the other car. They're called phantoms because they were only there for a brief moment. They might not realize they've done anything wrong.
For example, if a driver moves into the adjacent lane, the other driver might have to swerve to avoid them, running off the road or hitting someone else.
They may also pull out in front of the other car and don't realize it, causing the accident. That includes pulling out of a parking lot or driveway, running a stop sign or red light, or not yielding properly.
Often, a phantom driver is distracted and oblivious to what happened because of their negligence. It's often hard to win car accident settlements with a phantom driver because it's impossible to prove who the guilty party was or if one existed.
Personal Injury Settlement for the Hit-and-Run Accident
Often, hit-and-run accidents involve civil and criminal cases. Regardless of the criminal case, the driver should face a personal injury claim for any injuries and damages the victim suffered. A potential car accident settlement could include these types of compensation:
Pain and suffering
Uninsured Motorists (No Insurance Company)
If the at-fault driver gets caught, their insurance company may get sued. However, the at-fault driver might not have insurance, which might have been why they left the scene.
When the driver isn't found, the burden goes to the victim to recover compensation from the accident. Therefore, they need to file a claim with their own insurance company. For the insurance claim to be successful, they must have uninsured motorist coverage on the policy.
It's crucial to inform the lawyer if that coverage is available. Otherwise, the victim might pay out more money that their hit-and-run driver caused. How much compensation can be recovered for such a claim depends on the limits of the policy.
Typically, the insurance company tries to delay, deny, or underpay on those claims. It might low-ball the offer, which is why car accident lawsuits come into play here.
Factors Affecting the Average Car Accident Settlement Amount
Generally, personal injury claims come in two forms: compensatory and punitive damages. Therefore, it's best to work with a lawyer to determine what can be recovered in the car accident claim.
Compensatory damages compensate the victim for the expenses from the crash, such as property damages and medical bills. They aren't given as a judgment for the recklessness of the at-fault party.
Punitive damages punish the driver who caused the hit-and-run crash. The only way to get them is if the police find the other driver. A jury could award the victim punitive damages if the defendant's actions led to harm and were reckless or intentional.
Hit-and-run car accidents may involve various vehicles and different crash types (T-boned, rear-ended, etc.,) so there could be many injuries. That likely impacts the compensation received from the insurance company. If there are high medical bills after the incident, it might take longer to get the payout. Plus, insurance companies tend to wait until the treatment is finished to know the full amount of the medical expenses they must cover.
Pain and Suffering Damages
A significant factor in the settlement amount is what the pain and suffering is worth. This includes:
Future pain while recovering from the injuries
Current issues that cover the suffering up until now
Pain and suffering must be in one of those areas. It's often hard to prove this, but the lawyer can show medical records, medical bills, and information about previous appointments.
Financial recovery for personal injury cases that include pain and suffering must be backed by evidence. Therefore, a medical professional should issue a statement about future issues to recovery.
Contact a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer Today
Most car accident cases are easy to determine fault, but a hit-and-run case is much different. Therefore, a car accident attorney is necessary to figure out a fair settlement value and try to find the at-fault person.
Any car accident injury can be detrimental to one's health and livelihood. Victims may suffer from depression or anger and bring about a car accident case to be compensated for spinal cord injuries and other issues.
If the negligent driver left the scene, it's often hard to determine where the car accident settlement amounts come from. Insurance companies might not want to pay in hit-and-run cases, so a personal injury lawyer is the best option. Most attorneys offer a free legal consultation, and it's best to work with them.
Call Keating Law Firm for a free consultation about a personal injury case involving a hit-and-run accident. That way, the ball starts rolling on the claim, and a final settlement can be rendered that's fair and appropriate for the injuries sustained.