According to AAA, every 43 seconds, a hit-and-run accident happens somewhere in the United States. Tragically, the same report showed that 73 people lost their lives in hit-and-run accidents in Utah between 2006 and 2016.
A hit-and-run car crash can leave you with injuries, property damage, and a growing pile of bills.
For the average collision, you might seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Yet, if that driver sped away after causing the accident, your options may be more limited.
The good news is that you may still have legal avenues open to you. The compassionate car accident attorneys at Siegfried & Jensen want to hear your story. Call us at (801) 845-9000 for a free case evaluation or fill out our online contact form, and we will schedule a call as soon as possible.
The Impact of Hit-and-Run Accidents
In a hit-and-run accident, one of the other drivers fails to stop and give assistance or share contact information and insurance details with you. In Utah, this is a crime. It is a misdemeanor to leave the scene of an accident that caused property damage, and it is a felony to leave the scene of an accident involving injury.
Hit-and-run car wrecks can leave the victims with major expenses, such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Extensive vehicle damage
The extra complications involved with hit-and-run accidents make it even more important to seek qualified legal advice. Car accident lawyers, who are Utah law experts, could assist you in exploring all legal avenues open to you for compensation.
Proving Fault in Hit-and-Run Cases
Before you can pursue compensation in any car accident case, you must prove fault. Even in a hit-and-run incident, you or your lawyer must prove the following:
- Duty of care: The driver had a duty of care toward you
- Breach: The driver’s actions or negligence constituted a breach of his or her duty of care
- Cause: This breach cause compensable injuries
- Damages: You are entitled to compensation because of the other person’s actions
Fleeing the scene is not automatic proof of fault. When car accident attorneys review your case, they will only agree to proceed if they feel confident they can prove the other party was negligent. However, this is far from the only challenge in hit-and-run cases.
Pursuing Compensation in Hit-and-Run Cases
The next challenge in a hit-and-run case is tracking down the at-fault driver. The police will use security camera footage and details collected from witnesses at the scene to try to identify the fleeing driver. However, as the Salt Lake City Police Department acknowledged in 2020, many hit-and-runs go unsolved due to a lack of information.
Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver
If the police identify the driver, you can pursue compensation from his or her insurer. If the driver has insurance, you can pursue a liability claim under Utah law if the driver’s negligence caused injuries that meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Permanent disability or impairment
- Permanent disfigurement
- Bone fracture
- Medical expenses in excess of $3,000
However, the problem may be that the driver chose to flee because he or she had no insurance. In this case, you could file a lawsuit against the individual. Before proceeding with this type of claim, it pays to seek qualified legal advice.
If the driver does not have insurance, he or she may not have any other assets you can go after. An experienced car accident attorney can advise you whether or not you are likely to succeed and will only take on your case if he or she feels confident you can win.
Claim Under Your Insurance Coverage
If the police cannot identify the fleeing driver, you may be able to turn to your own insurance for compensation. In Utah, the following auto insurance is mandatory for all drivers:
- Bodily Injury Liability
- Property Damage Liability
- Personal Injury Protection
The benefit of purchasing additional coverage
Hit-and-run incidents highlight why buying extra insurance over and above those required by Utah law is a good idea. For example, you can purchase additional policies, including:
- Medical Payments
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage
Claiming under mandatory insurance
Utah is a no-fault car insurance state. So no matter who was responsible for the accident, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance will pay for your medical treatment up to your coverage limits.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, PIP may not be enough to pay for all of your medical expenses. In this case, you may use your health insurance and PIP to pay for your deductibles and/or copays.
Bodily injury liability and property damage liability are there to protect other parties if you cause an accident. So you will not be able to claim coverage for your injuries or property damage in a hit-and-run situation.
Claiming under medical payments
If you chose to take out medical payments coverage, this should cover your medical expenses after a hit-and-run collision. This is another form of no-fault insurance, so it will pay out no matter who was responsible for the accident.
Claiming under uninsured motorist insurance
Uninsured motorist insurance is one of the best forms of additional coverage to have in the event of a hit-and-run car accident.
Many insurance companies will treat a hit-and-run motorist as an uninsured driver and allow you to claim against this additional insurance. The bodily injury policy will help with medical expenses. In addition, you can use property damage insurance to pay for the cost of repairing or replacing your car.
No Reparations for Hit-and-Run Accidents in Utah
A hit-and-run accident is a crime, and in some states, it may be possible to make a claim against the state’s crime victim compensation board. However, in Utah, this is not the case.
According to the Utah Office for Victims of Crime, “hit and runs are NOT eligible for reparations.” Although this door is closed, don’t despair. Utah car accident attorneys who have handled these types of cases before may be able to guide you to legal routes you were unaware of to seek justice.
How Siegfried & Jensen Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
Pursuing compensation in a hit-and-run case is far from easy. If you go it alone, you may fail to exploit every possibility for compensation and be left paying out of pocket. Sadly, the cost of hit-and-run accidents can be so great that they can lead to bankruptcy.
At Siegfried & Jensen, we have been helping car accident victims seek justice for over 30 years. We are proud of our 97-percent success rate in the 35,000 cases we have handled. We work on contingency, so there are no fees to pay until we successfully secure compensation for you.
We understand that the future could seem pretty scary after a hit-and-run accident. However, if we take on your case, you can rest assured that our auto accident attorneys will use every legal resource at our disposal on your behalf. Our legal team has the skills and experience to aggressively pursue every recourse possible for you to get justice.
We want to hear your story and see how we can help. Talk to one of our car accident lawyers today by calling (801) 845-9000. Alternatively, contact us online, and we will schedule a consultation shortly.