I Was Involved in a Hit and Run. Do I Still Have a Case?
Being the victim of a hit-and-run can be a traumatic and confusing experience. In addition to the pain and stress of injury, you might have a more difficult time getting compensation if you cannot locate the other driver. You may be wondering if you can file a car accident claim after a hit-and-run.
An experienced, detail-oriented car accident attorney can help you to seek compensation for your injuries. If you’re a victim of a hit and run in Pennsylvania, the team at Goldberg, Goldberg & Maloney in West Chester is here to help. Below, we’ve compiled some facts you might want to know about filing a personal injury claim for a hit and run.
Requirements When an Accident Occurs in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, if you’re involved in an accident that causes injury, death, or property damage, you have a legal obligation to stop and help anyone who is injured (i.e., call 911 and the police). You must also exchange information with the other driver (including name, address, registration information, and driver’s license information).
If a driver hits you and does not stop, they are committing a hit and run. Call the police. This can be a difficult situation for you in terms of both possible injuries and pursuing a personal injury claim.
Pennsylvania Is a No-Fault Insurance State
In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to carry auto insurance that includes Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP). This is a type of no-fault insurance that provides certain compensation to policyholders who sustain injuries in a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. Ultimately, this all means that if you were injured in any type of auto accident—including a hit-and-run—your own insurance will cover your medical expenses and lost wages up to your policy’s limits.
There are circumstances where you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault party. In Pennsylvania, if your injuries are considered serious according to state law criteria, you have the option to step outside the no-fault system and pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party. By doing this, you can seek damages beyond what your PIP coverage provides, such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other non-economic losses.
Pursuing a personal injury claim can be a complex process. And that complexity only multiplies when you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident since you don’t know who to file your claim against. Thankfully, you still have options.
Your Options for Filing a Claim After a Hit and Run
You should never chase a hit-and-run driver, but you should immediately call 911 and the police so that they can begin the search for the driver. If they can find them, the extent of your ability to hold that driver accountable depends on which auto insurance option you’ve chosen. Since Pennsylvania is a “choice no-fault” state, everyone who purchases car insurance in Pennsylvania must choose either “limited tort” or “full tort” coverage.
Limited tort coverage allows you to seek compensation from the other driver to cover injuries and other economic damages (such as loss of wages) up to policy limits, but not non-economic damages such as “pain and suffering,” unless the injuries are serious enough to limit or permanently impair a bodily function or to cause serious disfigurement. You may also be able to seek compensation if your damages exceed your policy limits.
Full tort coverage allows you to seek compensation from the other driver to pay for all medical treatments and other economic damages as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, even if your injuries technically do not fall under the “serious” category.
If the authorities find the driver and any of the above situations for bypassing the “no-fault” rule apply, you can file a personal claim with the other driver’s insurer.
In the case that the driver is not immediately identified, you may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for hit-and-run civil lawsuits is generally two years after the date of the incident. Filing a civil lawsuit allows you to seek compensation beyond what the other driver’s insurance policy may provide. No matter your situation, it’s always advisable to seek the advice of a qualified attorney who’s experienced in hit-and-run personal injury cases.
Uninsured Motorist Provision
Another type of insurance you can buy in Pennsylvania might help you if you’ve been in a hit-and-run. Uninsured Motorist coverage not only covers injuries if your accident was caused by an uninsured driver but also covers these costs if the driver cannot be found, as in a hit and run. This type of insurance is not included with the required auto coverage in Pennsylvania and must be purchased separately.
Steps to Take if You Were in a Hit and Run
1) Get to safety and do not pursue the person leaving the scene.
During the initial shock following the hit and run, you may find it difficult to determine what to do. It may be tempting to attempt to follow the other driver, but this is dangerous for many reasons. Your car could be damaged and you could be injured, and the driver may be under the influence. It’s best to wait for the police, who can safely begin the search for the driver.
2) Take note of as many details as possible.
Try to identify or remember details about the other car, such as make and model, license plate number, color, and unique bumper stickers or marks on the car (dents, scratches, etc.). The same goes for the driver’s physical description.
3) Talk to any witnesses and get their contact information.
In the event that you aren’t in a condition to obtain or remember details, talk to anyone who witnessed the crash, such as other drivers, passersby, shopkeepers, etc. See if they can help you remember these details and exchange information with them.
4) Notify the authorities.
Call the police and tell them you were in a hit-and-run. Let them know any identifying details so that they can start searching for the driver. Call 911 if you are injured or if anyone else is injured.
5) Contact your insurance provider.
Call your insurance provider and explain that you were in a hit-and-run. Your PIP coverage will cover your injuries, and your insurance provider can also work with you if you have Uninsured Motorist coverage.
6) Hire an experienced personal injury attorney.
A personal injury attorney can liaise with the authorities and your medical and insurance providers in order to assist you in holding the other driver accountable and in advocating for fair compensation. In addition, they can argue your case forcefully if you go to court.
Need Representation? Contact Our Attorneys Today.
Based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we at Goldberg, Goldberg & Maloney are passionate about helping clients get the compensation they deserve, bringing negligent drivers to justice, and making the community safer.
Larry Goldberg is a former Hospital Administrative Officer in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps; he uses his medical knowledge to argue for satisfactory outcomes for his injured clients. His son, Joel Goldberg, has a similarly fervid desire to assist those injured in accidents caused by others’ negligence. As a former prosecutor, Chad Maloney brings his extensive experience in litigation to every trial. Basil G. Joy formally worked as both a prosecutor and a corporate lawyer; his skill set is particularly useful when arguing for financial redress for his clients.
Don’t go through this difficult time alone. Our team will be committed to helping you pursue your personal injury claim and fighting for the remuneration you deserve. If you are a victim of a hit and run, call us at Goldberg, Goldberg & Maloney for a consultation.