You’re on your way home after a long day at work or driving to your favorite restaurant when suddenly you’re struck by another car. As shocking and distressful as this is, you then watch as the other vehicle speeds off. Now, what do you do? A hit and run accident is a criminal offense, but the driver can also be held civilly liable for the injuries they cause to other drivers and pedestrians. It’s important to act quickly after you’ve been involved in a hit and run accident. It starts with hiring the aggressive Maryland personal injury attorneys of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP.
How A Hit and Run Accident Can Happen
If you’ve been injured in a hit and run accident, it’s important to understand why it occurred in the first place. Doing so will help piece together the sequence of events leading up to your accident, and therefore help hold the driver liable. These are a few of the most common reasons hit and runs happen:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Poor weather or visibility (e.g. nighttime driving)
- An unlicensed or uninsured driver afraid of being caught
- Fleeing from the scene of another crime
- Inexperienced driving
- Driver was speeding or violating other traffic laws
When a driver flees the scene of an accident, it’s usually because he or she doesn’t want their insurance rates to go up or because he or she was doing something else wrong (for example, did not have valid insurance). Either way, identifying a possible motive for why the driver fled will strengthen your case.
What You Should Do After A Hit And Run Accident
Maryland law requires motorists to stay at the scene of an accident. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident causing property damage could face jail and fines. These punishments are significantly higher if the accident results in injury or death.
If you’re another driver or a pedestrian who was struck by a hit and run driver, remain calm but act fast. Get medical attention for any injuries, even if you do not think you were hurt. If the situation is an emergency, call 911. You should also ask for law enforcement to come so you can make a police report. The police report records important factual information about the accident that will be useful later. Do not attempt to pursue the driver; let the police officers do their jobs.
Also, make your own notes of any and all details you can remember about the accident. The sooner you do this, the more information you will likely recall. Include things like the date, time, location, weather conditions, and as much description about the other driver and vehicle as possible. If there were any witnesses to the accident, speak to them immediately to find out what they saw. Be sure to get their names and contact information.
There may be businesses in the vicinity with surveillance cameras that may have recorded the incident. Sometimes there are government-operated traffic and surveillance cameras nearby. You will likely need the assistance of an attorney to obtain any video footage, and you should act quickly so the data is not erased.
Finally, take pictures and video of the accident scene. Include your vehicle so you can document the property damage. Some drivers are able to retrieve their cameras as the other motorist is fleeing, which is extremely useful because it captures the hit and run as it occurs.
How Will I Be Compensated If The Driver Isn’t Found?
If the hit and run driver isn’t found, an injured driver will need to turn to their own uninsured (UM) policy. Depending on the coverage, the victim may be compensated for medical expenses, missed time from work, and other losses.
You will need to show that you were involved in an accident in which the driver fled the scene. The police report may be used for this purpose. You also need to document the nature and extent of your injuries and other damages. Keep your medical records, evidence of lost wages, and documentation for other losses extending from the accident.
Some drivers carry what is known as personal injury protection (PIP), a type of optional, no-fault insurance. In Maryland, PIP coverage can be used to provide payment for medical bills and lost wages.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are notorious for denying legitimate hit and run accident claims. They also routinely try to settle with victims for far less than their accidents are worth. Our firm can review the details of your accident and insurance coverage to make sure you are being fairly compensated for your injuries.
What If The Driver Is Located?
If the driver is found, he or she will face criminal penalties for leaving the scene of the accident. But the driver can also be held liable in civil court. In most cases, the insurance company will step in to cover the driver. Having an experienced Maryland hit and run accident attorney is essential to negotiating the best possible compensation from the insurance company.
If you go to court – either because the driver has no insurance or the insurer is not willing to pay what your accident is worth – you will need to show the driver was negligent. That requires proving these elements:
- The driver owed you a duty of care
- The driver breached that duty by some act of negligence
- You, the victim, were injured because of this breach
- As a result, you suffered damages
Our firm represents clients in these and other parts of Maryland:
- Prince George’s County
- Montgomery County
- Calvert County
- Charles County
- St. Mary’s County
Contact A Maryland Hit And Run Accident Attorney
Hit and run victims often worry if they will get the justice they deserve. Whether the driver is found or not, we can explore your legal options and fight for the compensation you need. Contact Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP today.