You may be left dealing with the consequences of an auto crash – but with no knowledge of who the at-fault party is, or an at-fault party with no insurance coverage. The at-fault party may carry liability insurance, but not enough to cover damages from the crash.
Did someone hit you, and flee the scene? A hit-and-run is when a motorist crashes into a parked object, pedestrian, or another vehicle and leaves the scene without identifying themselves or rendering aid. In some instances, a hit-and-run occurs if you were unable to obtain insurance information or identification from another driver.
Have you been involved recently in an accident with an underinsured motorist? Were you involved in an accident with an uninsured driver? You may be covered depending on what type of Texas auto insurance you have purchased.
What you’ll learn in this post:
- What to do if you were involved in a hit-and-run
- Insurance Coverage for Hit-and-Run Crashes; Collisions with Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist
- Can You Recover After An Accident with Underinsured or Uninsured Motorists?
- How common are Hit-and-Run Crashes?
Nearly 11 out of every 100 traffic accidents are hit-and-run accidents. This means that for nearly 10 percent of accidents, the driver at-fault flees the scene. (More about hit-and-run crashes in Austin >>)
Without the cooperation of the at-fault driver, the not-at-fault party is left with a damaged car, and, often, injuries. If the not-at-fault party neither was able to record a license plate number nor recall the make of the car, it can seem like no options exist to recover damages. With that being said, what should you do if you are involved in a hit-and-run?
1. Record the License Plate After a string of high profile hit-and-run injury crashes in 2018, Austin police detective Adrian Duran advised the public in an interview with the Austin American Statesman. His advice: If you are hit while driving, take down the other driver’s license plate number. While your fist instinct may be to call the police or a loved one, record the identity of the vehicle. Without that information, it’s unlikely police will be able to help. Pro tip: Take a photo of the other vehicle’s license plate with your phone as soon as possible, in case the other driver decides to flee.
2. Get medical attention: Evaluate your need for medical attention. If you were hurt, calling for help or going to an emergency should be your number one priority.
3. span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Call the police: While it may seem like a waste of time because you don’t have much information on the person at the outset, a police report gives you an official document to rely upon later in court. The step of calling the police needs to happen immediately, as your case loses merit with each hour and day that passes without you taking this action.
4. Enlist other motorists to help identify the suspect: Your adrenaline may be running high, and pursuing the suspect after an accident of this magnitude may cause you to make harmful driving decisions. Ask other motorists at the scene for help in identifying the make/model of the car, and if possible have them follow the suspect at a short distance to obtain the license plate number for police records.
5. Call your insurance company: If you prepared yourself properly, you probably have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, which can allow you to file a claim with your insurer and recoup some of the money associated with the damage incurred in the accident. All of this may sound confusing, and time and money consuming, and unfortunately, insurance companies are trained to keep as much money within their company. You may benefit from engaging a lawyer to help you fight for your lost money and to negotiate your insurance claim on your behalf.
Expert witness tip: Worried about the possibility of a hit-and-run crash? Invest in a dashcam. Video evidence can help crime investigators identify the driver. It can also help hit-and-run attorneys negotiate on your behalf.
Underinsured or uninsured motorist clauses are an additional insurance protection provided by most insurance policies. When you are the victim of a hit-and-run or suffer injuries resulting from a negligent uninsured driver, you may be able to collect through your insurance policy.
In Texas, only liability coverage is required. That gives consumers a wide breadth of choice in how they want to spend their money. If you reduced your insurance coverage to save money in 2020, make sure it still has the coverages you need to keep your family safe.
Can include, but is not limited to:
Includes Uninsured / Underinsured Motorists Bodily Injury:
Covers injuries to you or your passengers as a result of uninsured, underinsured or hit-and-run motorist.
Again, in Texas this coverage is not required. However it is highly recommended. Experts estimate that at least 1 in 5 motorists operate a vehicle that is uninsured. There is a significant chance that you and your passengers may need to rely on coverage you purchased in the event of a serious crash.
Personal Injury Protection:
This coverage is required in Texas! It gives you protection from potential expenses from you or your passengers, regardless of fault in the crash. Expenses can include medical, funeral, disability and lost income.
Helps pay for medical, dental, and funeral expenses regardless of fault. This coverage is similar to PIP coverage, but is more specific to medical needs following a crash. It could be especially valuable to persons who do not have health insurance.
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorists Property Damage:
This gives the policyholder coverage to their property in the event that the at-fault party does not have insurance, they are underinsured, or the damages occurred during a hit-and-run.
Hopefully you are never the victim of a hit-and-run, but take care to educate yourself about how your policy will cover a hit-and-run or underinsured motorist situation. Take some time to make sure you understand the coverage purchased in your insurance policy. If you aren’t sure your policy protects you in the event of a hit-and-run accident, it’s a good idea to call your insurance company as soon as possible to find out.
If you have coverage that applies to a crash with a hit-and-run driver, you have the option to file a claim with your own insurance provider. If you sustained injuries in the crash, hire a personal injury attorney. Unfortunately at McMinn Law Firm we have witnessed many situations in which a policy holder’s own insurance company refuses to provide adequate coverage. The insurance adjuster has been tasked with reducing costs for their employer – not in helping you pay for needed medical care. An experienced attorney can help you and your family get the compensation you deserve to heal after the accident.
Texas ranks eighth in the nation among states with the most hit-and-runs.
Over the period from 2010 to 2017, Austin saw a 40% increase year over year for the number of hit-and-runs. In 2017, 1680 hit-and-run crashes were reported compared to 1,201 in 2010. Over the same time period, hit and run crashes increased among pedestrians. In 2017 81 were reported compared to 46 in 2010. (Data from the Department of Public Safety in Austin.)
Pedestrians and bicyclists are most likely to suffer from a hit-and-run crash. According to AAA, nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes are cyclists or pedestrians, according to AAA. Bicyclists and pedestrians are not only the most vulnerable road users, but they experts say drivers are more likely to flee the scene of a pedestrian/bicycle crash because witnesses are less common.
Austin’s McMinn Law Firm Helps Injured Texans
At the McMinn Law Firm, we are experienced in helping our clients pursue additional expenses under their own insurance policies for underinsured or uninsured motorists. Many of these clauses require specific notification periods and demand compliance with the rules of the policy to qualify for coverage. We can help you make the proper notifications and claims within the necessary time frame.
Austin, TX Jury Awards $462,624 To Victim of Intoxicated and Underinsured Driver
A Travis County jury awarded $462,624 to a McMinn Law Firm client who suffered serious injuries at the hands of a drunk driver who was underinsured. This verdict is one of the largest uninsured / underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage awards in Travis County.
Jason McMinn and Heather McMinn are the personal injury lawyers who led the charge. The defendant was our client’s UM / UIM carrier. The verdict is 18x more than an offer made by the defendant at mediation. The verdict is 6x more than an offer the defendant made a few days before trial.
This verdict first and foremost provides needed compensation for our client.Jason McMinn | Austin Car Accident Attorney
Also, this award speaks to how the Austin community believes insurance carriers must honor their contracts with their policyholders.