Every type of car accident can be stressful and often frightening. However, the situation can become even more traumatic and worrisome if the driver who caused the crash then flees the scene. Hit and run drivers can leave behind accident victims in need of serious medical attention or who suffered fatal injuries in a crash. Sometimes, fleeing the scene causes additional injuries that could have been prevented had the driver stopped and assisted accident victims—or even just called the authorities to report the accident.
An accident in Philadelphia in recent months demonstrates just how dangerous hit and run drivers can be. According to new reports, a 38-year-old driver was involved in an accident near the intersection of 23rd Street and Jackson Street and fled the scene. As the driver sped away, he crashed into a number of additional cars and hit two pedestrians. Several people were transported to the hospital and one 46-year-old woman suffered fatal injuries.
Police reported that the driver had taken medication and believed he lost consciousness right before the accident. While the driver may not have realized what he was doing, taking medication that impairs your driving ability in the first place is negligent behavior. Negligent drivers should be held fully accountable for the extensive losses of injured accident victims and their families. If you have been injured in a car accident—whether another driver fled the scene or not—you should discuss your rights with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.
The Rights of Accident Victims
Individuals who sustain injuries in car accidents have the right to seek compensation for their losses from the negligent driver who caused the accident. Losses commonly include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Ways that accident victims can seek the compensation for their injuries include:
Filing an auto insurance claim – If the negligent driver has car insurance as required by law, you can file a claim with their insurer to request payment for your losses. Many people expect they will simply receive a check for the full amount in the mail—but this is rarely the case. Even though it is the insurance company’s duty to compensate accident victims under certain policies, you can be sure that these companies also want to protect their profitability whenever possible by limiting, delaying, or simply denying payouts.
Insurance companies often engage in unscrupulous tactics to avoid paying accident victims fair compensation. First, many insurers will start by throwing out a lowball offer, hoping that a claimant will simply accept it. Accepting an inadequate offer is a huge mistake, as you will have no additional opportunities to request more once you realize your losses exceed the amount of the settlement. Instead, when you receive an offer from an insurance company, you should have it closely reviewed by a skilled car accident attorney who can identify when an offer is too low.
Insurance companies also try to fight liability by questioning who was at fault in the accident and by challenging the legitimacy of your losses. Often, adjusters claim you did not need all the time off work or all the treatment you received. An experienced attorney will know how to provide proof of fault and your losses to ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.
Filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit – When the insurance claim process does not procure a fair settlement, you may need to turn to the courts. Injured accident victims have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against any negligent parties. Additionally, families of victims killed in crashes can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover for losses specified by law.
The lawsuit process is governed by specific procedural rules that an experienced litigation attorney can navigate. Often, just filing a lawsuit petition will be enough for an insurance company to substantially increase its insurance offer, as it will try to avoid the costs of litigation. In other cases, several rounds of settlement negotiations may be needed before the other party offers a favorable amount. Rarely, the case may need to proceed to trial to obtain a jury verdict in your favor.
Hit and Run Cases
Although the driver in the recent Philly accident was detained and identified, many hit and run drivers are never found. However, just because a driver fled does not mean that you should be responsible for the costs of your injuries. Instead, you should turn to your uninsured motorist policy.
Making a claim with your own insurance company sounds simple. But your insurance company wants to protect profits just like any other, so the process may be more challenging than you would think. In fact, your own insurance company may erect the same roadblocks in the process as another driver’s carrier. For this reason, you should enlist the help of a car accident lawyer who understands how to seek compensation after a hit and run, even if the driver who hit you fled and cannot be found. An attorney can review settlement offers, prove the extent of your losses, and recognize when your insurance company is acting in bad faith. Having the right legal representation on your side to protect your rights ensures the best possible recovery of compensation for the injuries and losses you’ve suffered.
Contact a Philly Car Accident Law Firm for a Free Consultation
The Levin Firm represents clients in a wide variety of motor vehicle accident cases. Whether your accident involved cars, trucks, pedestrians, hit and run drivers, or other unique circumstances, we have the experience and resources to handle your claim. We will take care of every aspect of a legal claim—including the insurance process and litigation when needed—so that our clients can rest and recover from their injuries with minimal stress. If you need assistance after any type of accident and injury, please call 215-825-5183 or contact us online today to set up your case evaluation.