We read about victims of hit-and-run accidents in the news all too frequently. Often times, investigators have a difficult time looking for the striking vehicle and person responsible for the accident and injures. This can make it difficult for the victim’s family to have closure on the accident and handle all of the many medical and financial consequences associated with any injuries.
Civil Injury Lawsuits for Hit and Runs
If the motorist involved in a hit-and-run accident is identified, the plaintiff (injured victim) is typically entitled not only to damages to make him “whole again” (medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.), but also punitive damages (designed to punish defendant) for recklessly causing harm. In Pennsylvania, courts can impose punitive damages for conduct that is outrageous, i.e. with reckless indifference to the rights of others, especially if that conduct was intentional (i.e. leaving the scene of an accident when someone might be seriously injured). In addition, any criminal conviction against the defendant associated with the hit-and-run can be used as evidence of liability in the civil case.
The Importance of Uninsured Motorist Coverage
In hit-and-run circumstances, where the identity of the driver and the status of their auto insurance are unknown, typically the simplest way to address financial concerns from the accident is to turn to your own insurance company and address the issue through uninsured motorist coverage. Remember that although it is important to report the accident to your insurance company right away in order to potentially defray medical costs, it is also important to consult an attorney before providing any official (recorded) statements or signing any documents.
No-Fault Car Insurance
Unfortunately, it is more likely that victims of hit-and-runs will have to collect from their own insurance company because the driver often is not caught, identified, and held accountable. Because Pennsylvania is a no-fault (insurance) state, your own insurance company will pay some or all of your medical expenses and lost earnings, regardless of who was technically at fault. Injuries are covered up to the personal injury protection (PIP) limit. A PIP claim is essentially a no-fault insurance claim that you make against your own company to cover payment of medical bills and lost wages under Pennsylvania’s no-fault laws. Choosing to carry no-fault insurance over traditional insurance means that a claim can only proceed against the driver at fault if the injury is “serious,” but it also means that after an accident, you aren’t entirely left dependent on bringing a lawsuit against the person to blame for your injuries in order to cover expenses.
Our Attorneys Can Help
Victims of car accidents in Pennsylvania may be entitled to a variety of compensatory and non-compensatory benefits that cover monetary and non-monetary losses. The experienced attorneys at Solnick & Associates, LLC have the skills and training to handle these complex claims. If you or someone you know may have been hurt in a car accident, please contact Solnick & Associates, LLC today.