I WAS INVOLVED IN A HIT AND RUN. DO I STILL HAVE A CASE?
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation reports that through September there have been 78,354 traffic accidents in the state in 2021, resulting in 283 fatalities. That means, on average, there are 294 crashes per day in Massachusetts.
No data exist on how many of those accidents were hit and runs. If you’re struck by another vehicle and the driver flees the scene before you can collect name and insurance information, you might face some serious obstacles in getting fully reimbursed for any injuries you suffer.
Since Massachusetts is a no-fault insurance state, you must report an accident to your own insurer first. If your injuries exceed your policy’s limit, in a hit-and-run accident, you will have no at-fault driver to file a claim against. You can be stuck with out-of-pocket expenses.
If you were injured in a hit-and-run accident in or around Shrewsbury, Northborough, Westborough, Southborough, Webster or Dudley Massachusetts, contact me at the Law Office of James A. Maniatis. I have long been helping victims of car accidents navigate the insurance and legal systems to seek the compensation they deserve. I will meet with you, listen to your story, and then handle the insurance company claims adjusters while you recover from your injuries.
MASSACHUSETTS INSURANCE LAWS: NO-FAULT AND UNINSURED MOTORISTS
Massachusetts is one of a dozen states that uses a no-fault insurance system. This means that you must report an accident to your insurer and make your claim there. Your injuries will be covered under a provision called personal injury protection (PIP).
In other words, you won’t normally be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver unless your injuries meet certain criteria. You can step outside of the no-fault system only if:
Your injuries incur at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses and/or
Your injuries include permanent and serious disfigurement, fractured bones, or substantial loss of hearing or sight
In a hit-and-run accident, you won’t know the at-fault driver’s name or contact information. However, you are also covered by your uninsured motorist insurance provision, which is designed to cover you if you are injured in a hit and run. The minimum Uninsured Motorist Coverage is $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident (20/40) for everyone injured.
These limits are the minimum required by law. You can always purchase higher Uninsured Motorist Coverage limits. Many clients have limits of 25/50, 50/100, 100/300 and 250/500. I encourage all clients to have a minimum of 100/300 and highly recommend coverage of 250/500. In some cases, I also recommend a client obtain an Umbrella Policy.
STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU’RE INVOLVED IN A HIT AND RUN
If another driver crashes into your vehicle and then flees the scene, your first instinct may be to chase after them to hold them accountable. This is not advisable. In other words, don’t do it. A high-speed car chase that endangers others on the road can lead to serious consequences.
Instead, call the police and have them come and assess the situation. Law enforcement has a variety of techniques they can use to identify and find the suspect, so let them do their jobs. When they file their report, try to get a copy to help with the insurance claims process.
If you can, use your cell phone’s camera to take a picture of the fleeing vehicle or try to remember the license plate number, make, model, and color of the vehicle. Take photos at the scene and make notes of what happened. If you can remember any physical description of the other driver, write that down. If there are witnesses, try to get their statements and contact information. Also, take a good look around to see if there are any cameras, at any nearby businesses, or doorbell cameras, at any homes nearby, that may have recorded the crash.
After you’ve reported the accident to your insurance company, contact a car accident attorney to handle matters from thereon. You don’t want to deal with claims adjusters and their tricks, especially if you’re injured and emotionally shaken. Please remember the claim representative works for the insurance company and not you.
GETTING THE EXPERIENCED LEGAL HELP YOU NEED
Insurance companies are in the business of making money, so when you file a claim, they’re going to be looking for ways to minimize their liability or even deny your claim if at all possible.
They may challenge you about the extent of your injuries. They may ask you to authorize them to obtain copies of your medical history. They will then look for any pre-existing condition that may have contributed to your injury. They can then use that information to lowball or even deny your claim.
Don’t sign anything – especially a medical release or settlement document – without running it past an experienced attorney. In fact, the best approach is to let your attorney deal with the adjusters as soon as you file your claim. Sometimes, claims under uninsured motorist coverage end up in arbitration. You’ll definitely want a knowledgeable and skilled attorney at your side if matters go to arbitration.
If you live in or near Shrewsbury, Southborough, Webster, Northborough, Westborough, Grafton, Dudley, or Oxford, contact me at the Law Office of James A. Maniatis to arrange a free consultation. I am eager to help handle all the details of your case and strive for maximum compensation for your injuries.