After a negligent driver hits you and flees the scene, you may worry you cannot get compensation for your losses. However, drivers in Connecticut must purchase uninsured motorist coverage (UM) as part of their auto insurance policies. UM coverage can pay for your medical expenses and vehicle damage after a hit and run. You may have also purchased optional coverage, such as basic reparations, that can provide you with additional compensation.
The attorneys at Jainchill & Beckert, LLC are fierce and compassionate advocates for injured people in Connecticut. If you were hurt in a collision, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer.
How Common Are Hit-and-Run Accidents?
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates there are 750 million hit-and-run accidents nationwide every year. That works out to one hit-and-run crash every 43 seconds. Around 11 to 13 percent of all motor vehicle crashes are hit and runs, accounting for nearly seven percent of traffic accident injuries and five percent of traffic deaths.
Sadly, the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show fatalities from hit-and-run accidents increased 26 percent in a single year, with over 2,500 lives lost in motor vehicle collisions alone.
In addition, many fatal hit-and-run accidents involve a pedestrian or bicyclist. The NHTSA data reports that 24 percent of all pedestrian accident fatalities involved a driver who left the crash scene. Approximately 22 percent of all bicyclist deaths were hit and runs. In total, 4,348 people died in hit-and-run collisions in a single year.
Are You Required to Remain at the Scene and Render Aid After an Accident?
Connecticut law requires all drivers involved in an accident resulting in property damage, serious injury, or death to stop at the crash scene and provide any necessary assistance to others. Drivers must also provide their name, address, license number, and registration number to a police officer, any person who suffered injury or property damage, and any witnesses. If the driver cannot furnish their information, they must immediately report the accident to a police officer, constable, state police officer, or inspector of motor vehicles.
Are There Criminal Penalties for Fleeing the Scene of an Accident?
Fleeing from the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in Connecticut. Penalties increase if the accident results in serious injuries or death. Criminal penalties for committing a hit and run include:
- Accidents involving property damage or injuries that do not cause pain or physical impairment – Up to one year of imprisonment with a potential fine of $75 to $600 for a first offense, or up to one year of incarceration and fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 for any subsequent offenses
- Crashes with injuries causing pain or physical impairment – Up to five years imprisonment with fines ranging from $75 to $1,000, depending on the number of offenses committed
- Hit-and-run accident resulting in serious bodily injury or death – Two to 20 years in prison plus a potential fine of up to $20,000
In addition to criminal penalties, drivers can be held civilly liable for injuries they cause in a hit-and-run accident. Consult with an experienced car accident attorney immediately to determine your rights to compensation if you suffered injuries in a hit-and-run crash.
What Sources of Compensation Can I Turn to After a Hit and Run?
You may have several sources of compensation to pursue after sustaining injuries in a hit-and-run crash, including:
- Lawsuits – If you locate the hit-and-run driver after the crash, you can file a lawsuit against the driver and their insurance company seeking compensation for your losses. You could get money for medical expenses, lost income, vehicle repair or replacement costs, physical pain, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life.
- Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) – If you cannot find the driver who left the scene, you can file a claim with your own insurance company through your uninsured motorist coverage. All Connecticut drivers must purchase UM coverage. Insurers treat unidentified hit-and-run drivers as uninsured motorists, which allows you to file a claim for compensation.
- PIP/MedPay – Auto insurers also offer optional personal injury protection/medical payments coverage for purchase. PIP/MedPay can help you cover medical expenses and certain income losses regardless of who caused the car accident.
- Collision/comprehensive coverage – Optional collision/comprehensive coverage can reimburse you for the costs required to fix your car.
How Long Do I Have to File an Insurance Claim and Lawsuit in Connecticut?
If you wish to file a claim with your car insurance provider after a hit-and-run accident, review the terms of your policy to confirm whether there is a deadline to file. Many insurers require you to notify them of an auto accident within a specific timeframe after the crash (often around 30 days) to give their adjusters time to investigate the accident.
However, if you bring a claim against the hit-and-driver or their insurance provider, Connecticut’s statute of limitations gives you only two years to file a lawsuit. If you file suit after the limitations period expires, the trial court can permanently dismiss your case.
What Should I Do Following a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Steps you should take to protect your legal rights to pursue compensation after a hit-and-run accident include:
- Report the accident to the police – If you did not contact 911 immediately, call local law enforcement to report the hit and run and summon an officer to the scene.
- Gather evidence – Take photos and videos of details such as damage to your vehicle, visible injuries you suffered, skid marks, traffic controls, and weather/lighting conditions at the time of the crash.
- Identify witnesses – Gather contact information from any eyewitnesses to the accident.
- Seek medical attention – If you do not require emergency treatment, go to the hospital or your doctor’s office for a medical exam as soon as possible.
- Check your insurance policy – You need to know how long you have to report the accident to your insurer. If you must call right away, limit what you say to the basic facts of the accident, such as the location, date, and time. Do not discuss your injuries or speculate about who is at fault.
- Collect records and documents – Keep copies of all accident-related bills, invoices, receipts, and pay stubs. Request copies of the police accident report and your medical records.
- Consult with a hit-and-run accident attorney – A knowledgeable lawyer can explain your options for pursuing money for your crash-related losses.
Contact a Connecticut Car Accident Lawyer
You may have several avenues to recover compensation after a hit-and-run accident. The Connecticut car accident lawyers at Jainchill & Beckert, LLC can help prepare a claim demanding maximum compensation for your injuries while you focus on healing. Contact us today for a free consultation.