Hit and Run Accidents
Drivers who flee the scene of an accident may be committing a criminal offense. Regardless of how minor an accident is, a driver should stop to make sure no drivers, passengers or pedestrians were injured. Some drivers panic and flee because they were drinking under the influence and don’t want to be caught and charged. Others may simply assume everyone is fine and fail to see whether they’ve injured someone. In some cases, a hit-and-run driver is apprehended by police and can be sued for damages. However, there are also situations in which a hit and run driver is never caught and an uninsured motorist claim must be brought. People injured in hit-and-run accidents may require legal representation to protect their rights. You should call the seasoned Syracuse car accident attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano for a consultation.Hit-and-Run Accidents
Car accidents are common. All drivers involved in a car accident have a legal obligation to identify themselves and provide help as needed to injured persons. When an accident involves injuries, a driver needs to call the police and file a report unless she is physically unable to do so. Whenever a driver leaves the scene of an accident, without reasonable justification or providing contact information and identification, it is considered a hit and run. You should discuss your legal options with a lawyer after getting injured in a hit and run.Liability for Hit-and-Run Accidents
New York is a no-fault state. That means drivers need to purchase no-fault insurance against which they can make an initial claim for their injuries. You cannot sue for your damages unless you meet the threshold for serious injuries. The first step after being injured in a hit and run is to make a claim against your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Every driver is supposed to obtain PIP coverage; the minimum amount of coverage is $50,000. If your injuries are not serious, this coverage may be enough to cover your medical bills.
Assuming the police can locate the hit-and-run driver, you can sue him or her for damages if you have serious injuries. In most cases, personal injury lawsuits arising out of a car accident are brought under a theory of negligence. You will need to establish: (1) the hit-and-run driver’s duty to use reasonable care towards you, (2) breach of the duty to use reasonable care, (3) causation, and (4) damages. A hit-and-run driver can breach the duty to use reasonable care and cause injuries by driving while distracted, texting while driving, drunk driving, speeding, weaving, tailgating, and driving aggressively.Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In addition to PIP coverage, all drivers are also required to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The minimum coverage that is mandated is $25,000 for bodily injury to one person or $50,000 for bodily injury to all persons. An uninsured motorist endorsement specifies that if you or a passenger is injured because of the actions of another driver who didn’t have liability insurance, your insurer will pay your damages.
When the police are unable to locate a hit-and-run driver, you may need to make a claim not only against your PIP coverage, but also your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist claims may be made when the identity of a hit-and-run driver is unknown, and another car struck the one in which you were an occupant. You should realize that when you make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your insurance carrier, you will be in an adversarial position with your own insurer. The insurer steps into the shoes of the hit-and-run driver’s insurer. Its goal will not be to pay you to the extent you deserve, but to avoid the other driver’s liability and assert defenses such as comparative negligence.Retain a Seasoned Syracuse Attorney
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a hit and run, you should discuss what happened with the seasoned attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. Our firm represents people throughout Upstate New York in Rochester, Syracuse, Lowville, Watertown, Auburn, Oswego, Ithaca, Canandaigua, Lyons, Oneida, Cooperstown, Elmira, Wampsville, Herkimer, Binghamton, and Utica. Call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 315-479-9000 or via our online form.