A hit-and-run accident is an accident in which one or more vehicles involved leaves the scene without notifying the police or providing identification. For the victim of a hit-and-run driver, whether or not they will be compensated for personal injuries and/or property damages depends not only on the insurance coverage available but also on the facts of the accident itself.
The first type of hit-and-run accident involves a situation where the at-fault driver collides with another motorist, but the vehicle is later identified. In this scenario, if the at-fault vehicle or driver is covered under a liability insurance policy, a liability claim can be made. If there is liability insurance on the vehicle being operated by the hit-and-run driver, it would be primary. If the vehicle itself was not covered by liability insurance, then a determination must be made as to whether the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle was covered by a liability policy of their own. Claims made under either liability insurance policy would provide for recovery of damages for personal injury, property damages as well as punitive damages. If there is no available liability coverage, then an uninsured motorist claim can be made. a claim made under uninsured motorist coverage will pay for both personal injuries and property damages.
The second type of hit and run accident involves a situation where the at-fault driver collides with another motorist and leaves the scene but cannot be identified. If there is no way to identify the at-fault vehicle or driver, then an uninsured motorist claim can be made. However, North Carolina follows the “no contact rule”. As long as there is physical contact with the hit-and-run vehicle, a claim for personal injuries can be made. No claim can be made for property damages, such as damage to the vehicle. The apparent reason for this exclusion of property damage coverage is to prevent fraudulent hit-and-run claims in one-car accidents where the driver is not purchased collision coverage.
Finally, there are accidents where an unidentified at-fault driver causes an accident yet does not actually collide with any vehicle. For example, when an at-fault driver improperly crosses into a lane of oncoming traffic and the victim driver successfully swerves to avoid a collision, but nevertheless collides with some other stationary object. Under this scenario, since no actual contact was made with the at-fault driver, no claim for personal injuries or property damages can be made.
If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident as always it is important to gather as much information as soon as possible. Witness names, photographs of the vehicles and of the accident scene itself may prove invaluable improperly presenting your claim. Contact Price Petho Associates for a free consultation.