While injuries and deaths resulting from vehicle accidents are gradually falling, the number of hit and run accidents have become more and more common in recent years. This can complicate a personal injury lawsuit since in order to file a claim, you need to know who caused the accident—without a defendant, there can be no case, and you may be left filing the accident with your own insurance company.
In the event that you are able to find who the other party was, they will be held responsible for paying damages for the accident. As with any motor vehicle accident, you are entitled to damages for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage, i.e. to your vehicle
- Loss of consortium/society (in the case of death)
In addition to paying damages for your injuries, lost income, and so forth, the defendant will also be assessed punitive damages. This is because leaving the scene of the accident is both against the law as well as morally reprehensible if they had reason to believe you were injured.
Overcoming Challenges of Seeking Compensation
If the other driver flees the scene of the accident, it’s naturally difficult to exact what you’re owed from them. Under Illinois law, this can mean filing a uninsured/underinsured claim with your own insurance company.
If this is the case, you may not be able to recover damages for your damaged vehicle since Illinois law does not permit hit-and-run property damage to be covered by uninsured/underinsured claims. Instead, you’ll have to rely on compensation from other forms of coverage.
In order to make sure you recover as much as possible for your injury, you’ll need to make sure to collect thorough information about the accident. This includes:
- Make and model of the other vehicle
- The other driver’s license plate number
- Description of the other driver if you were able to see them
- Data about the accident, including date, time, and location
- Photos of the accident site
- Photographic evidence of the damage done to your vehicle
- Copies of your medical bills and other expenses
- Documentation of missed time at work
Talking to others who witnessed the accident can help you get the needed information together. In addition, police reports can be used as evidence to narrow down who did it and to support your claim.
There are a couple caveats to remember here. First, in the event of an accident, don’t go chasing after the other vehicle since that can increase the odds of having a second accident. Second, seek medical help promptly, even if you don’t feel like your injuries are that serious. Often, an injury such as neck or back pain won’t manifest itself until after a day or two, so visiting your doctor as soon as possible after the accident will help solidify your claim.
If you are able to track down who caused the accident, you’ll still need to prove the accident was their fault and that it resulted in your injuries. The information you gather from the accident will help you recover what you’re owed, as will the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney. If you have been in a hit-and-run accident, contact Hart David Carson, LLP, today.