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Under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3744, all drivers of any vehicles involved in accidents resulting in injury to or death of any persons or damage to any vehicles or other property which are driven or attended by any persons shall give their names, addresses, and the registration numbers of the vehicles they are driving. When a person leaves the scene of the accident without following this duty to give information and render aid, it is referred to as a “hit and run” accident. The crime can also be called “leaving the scene” of a crash.
Most people are shocked when another motorist flees the scene of a crash and have no idea what legal recourse could be available or how to pursue compensation. Ciccarelli Law Offices provides some answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about hit and run accidents on this section of our website.
If you sustained catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed by a hit and run driver in Southeastern Pennsylvania, you should immediately call (610) 719-3190 or fill out an online contact form to have our Chester County personal injury attorneys review your case during a free consultation. Ciccarelli Law Offices has offices in West Chester, Philadelphia, Kennett Square, King of Prussia, Springfield, Lancaster, Plymouth Meeting, and Radnor.
If you have been involved any kind of accident in which a driver flees the scene of the collision, you should never attempt to follow the offending vehicle. Not only do you risk being involved in another crash, but you have no knowledge of the mental condition of the hit and run driver. It is best to let police confront a motorist who could possibly be armed and dangerous.
You first step should be to seek medical attention for yourself or see if anybody else was hurt and in need of care. Call 911 and make sure to file a police report. You will want to provide authorities with as many details as you can remember. If there were any witnesses to the collision, be sure to get their names, phone numbers, and additional contact information. Finally, take as many pictures as possible of the accident scene.
Following the accident, you are likely to receive multiple phone calls for both your insurance company and that of the negligent driver (if apprehended). You should not make any recorded statements to any representative of an insurance company without having legal representation.
Depending on the specifics surrounding the collision, victims of hit and run crashes could be entitled to certain economic, noneconomic, and possibly even punitive damages.
Economic damages are tangible figures that can be calculated, such as past and future lost income, medical expenses, and vehicle repair costs. Noneconomic damages are more subjective figures that include claims such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and humiliation.
Victims could also be entitled to punitive damages if a hit and run driver’s conduct is found to be especially egregious—such as if the alleged offender is found to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the collision. Punitive damages (also referred to as exemplary damages) are additional compensation that is awarded to victims specifically to punish offenders and discourage them from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
If negligent drivers argue that they were not involved in hit and run accidents, an experienced attorney will know how to investigate and still hold them accountable. In addition to your own identification of an offending driver and/or vehicle, the statements of witnesses can also be used to support your claim. A lawyer may also be able to find damage on the offender’s vehicle that supports evidence of being involved in a collision.
Unfortunately, some motorists who leave the scenes of accidents are never brought to justice. An attorney will know when to give up on waiting and help you file a claim with your own insurance company to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
Even if you do not specifically have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in your insurance policy, you could still be able to receive some compensation for your medical bills if you maintained the minimum amount of automobile insurance ($5,000 for first party medical bills).
Under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524(2), a victim has two years from the date injuries are caused to commence a personal injury action.
In best-case scenarios, people suffer no injuries and there is minimal damage to their automobiles in hit and run accidents. In more serious crashes, victims can sustain a wide variety of catastrophic injuries that can include, but are not limited to:
While leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense, it does not guarantee that a judge or jury will not find the alleged offender completely at fault for the collision. If a judge or jury assigns a plaintiff a percentage of blame for an accident, it could result in a momentary award being somewhat reduced.
The negligent driver’s insurance company may sound friendly and concerned about your health, but the truth is that they want you to accept a lump sum payment that is actually much less than what you are entitled to. Insurance companies for at-fault drivers aggressively try to get victims on the phone and catch them when they are most concerned about paying hospital bills and making up for time missed form work.
While the amounts that they may offer can sound fairly substantial in some cases, the amounts rarely account for the future needs a victim is likely to face. Too many people assume that these offers are their one and only chance to be paid, and agree to the settlements. Unfortunately, accepting a lackluster settlement will prohibit a victim from filing any legal claim and thus leave them on their own to pay a multitude of bills after the lump sum is gone.
It is understandable that most people believe that the insurance company they regularly pay for coverage will have the best interests of their own customers at heart, all insurance companies have one primary concern: Their own bottom lines.
As a result, your own insurance company is just as likely to engage in the same tactics as the insurance provider for a negligent motorist. This means offering lowball settlement amounts and attempting to get you to make recorded statements that minimize the extent of your injuries and can be used against you if you decide to take legal action.
It is in your best interest to refuse to speak to any insurance agent until you have first spoken to a caring and compassionate West Chester personal injury lawyer. Ciccarelli Law Offices fights to get hit and run victims all over Southeastern Pennsylvania the compensation they need and deserve following a traumatic accident.
Our attorneys work as a team to locate hit and run drivers and hold them accountable. Call (610) 719-3190 right now to receive a full review of your case during a free consultation.
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