(U.S. Law) The only thing worse than an auto accident, is an auto accident which ends with a hit-and-run. Not only does this delay your ability to get your insurance claim on damages, it may mean that you are stuck alone and injured on a remote highway. Fortunately, the law takes your concerns and fears into consideration, and legislators have set up a number of powerful legal defenses in your favor.
Running Away Doesn’t Prevent Responsibility
Many people who are the cause of hit-and-runs think that they will be able to flee not only the accident, but their responsibility for having caused the wreck in the first plac. However, nothing can be further from the truth. Fleeing the scene of an accident is not only a separate crime, it creates a presumption of guilt when assigning blame. While this is merely persuasive evidence in a criminal trial, it is damning in a civil lawsuit. Any personal injury lawyer will tell you that the worst thing their client can do is to flee the scene of an accident.
Modern Forensics are on Your Side
A lot of people who flee the scene think that they will be able to avoid responsibility for their actions by removing or eliminating evidence of the accident. Not only is this a separate “third crime,” it is very difficult to do in the modern era. When cars come into contact, they literally trade paint and the tiny flecks of paint left at the scene of the accident can identify which cars were involved in the accident. Very small pieces of glass, plastic and rubber can be traced back to specific makes and models. In some cases, partial plate numbers can even be gathered from the scene of the accident or from nearby security cameras. Therefore, try as they might, modern hit-and-run drivers cannot hope to escape.
The Law is on Your Side
If someone else hits you and takes off, you might not be entirely absolved of your role in the accident but you will nonetheless have many legal protections. All auto insurance companies are required to carry a hit-and-run policy, which will protect you in full if the perpetrator cannot be found. If you contact a personal injury attorney, they will advise you that you cannot be held responsible for any part of the accident you did not cause, or that it cannot be proved that you caused. In general, the courts will assume that any damage that was not clearly caused by you was caused by the hit-and-run driver, so you do not need to worry that you will be blamed for what you did not do. Additionally, a hit-and-run driver will have his culpability and liability increase while because he or she is not there to demonstrate their side of the picture, giving you a big advantage in subsequent litigation.
A hit-and-run accident is a disaster, but the law and your insurance company will be on your side. Someone who causes a crash and then runs is only making things worse on themselves. Not only are they unlikely to get away with it, they are admitting much of their guilt by fleeing. Still, if you are caught in such an accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer, especially if you have medical bills arising from the accident. Many insurance companies do not cover all costs involved in a personal injury claim, and you should not pay for injuries you did not cause.
Krista Langford is a business owner and contributing writer for the family-owned firm of Tenn and Tenn in New Hampshire. They are focused, aggressive, and experienced personal injury lawyers who have helped thousands of clients whose body, mind, property, or general rights have been harmed. Since 1995, these seasoned attorneys provide risk analysis and proactive ways to maximize your recovery.