When a hit and run driver strikes your vehicle, the impact could damage your car and injure you and your family. If the injuries are serious, high medial bills, lost wages, and other long term expenses can change your standard of living for years to come. The hard consequences of a hit and run accident can seem unfair for an innocent injured party to bear. But if you have the right coverage, your auto insurance company can rescue you from the financial burden.
You probably know auto insurance basics: Collision coverage pays for damages to your car. Medical Payments coverage contributes to out of pocket medical expenses. But if you don’t fully understand your Uninsured Motorist coverage, you may not realize that it pays the injury-related damages you would be entitled to receive from the guy who left the scene.
A Hit and Run Driver is an Uninsured Motorist
California Uninsured Motorist Coverage is optional; but if you have it on your policy, it may eliminate the concerns traditionally associated with hit and run accidents. As the name implies, the UM coverage will pay for damages caused by an “uninsured motorist.” But the auto policy’s definition of an uninsured motorist also includes, “…a hit-and-run vehicle whose owner or operator cannot be identified…”
If you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage on your policy, your insurance company should step in to fill the void left by a hit and run driver. If a hit and run driver caused damage to your car or injured you or your passengers, your insurance company will set up a claim file and pay you as though they were his liability insurance carrier.
You and Your Insurance Company May Become Adversaries
Once your company verifies that you have a potential uninsured motorist claim, it can change your relationship. Your uninsured motorist claim will put your company in the other guy’s shoes. For the purposes of a UM claim, the hit and run driver becomes the insured and you become the claimant. Just like any other liability claim, your insurance company will conduct an investigation to prove the facts:
- Was the other guy negligent in causing the accident?
- Were your damages and injuries a result of the impact?
- Were your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident?
Liability Issues Are not Simple
When a driver hits your car and leaves the scene, it may seem obvious to you that he ran away because he was at fault. That’s a reasonable assumption, but your insurance company will still conduct an investigation to gather all the facts so they can be certain. For example, what if the facts showed that the other guy ran a red light, but they also revealed that you were speeding?
California accidents are covered by the state’s pure comparative negligence statute. That means the laws recognize that in most accidents, more than one party can be negligent. For example, if your insurance company decides that the other guy was 70 percent responsible for the accident and that you were 30 percent responsible, they would reduce any UM claim settlement by 30 percent.
Presenting Your UM Claim to Your Insurance Company
What if your insurance company pays all of your bills and reimburses your lost wages, but they don’t offer money for pain, suffering, and permanent disability? That’s exactly how some company’s handle liability claims. They set reserves based on the full value of your claim. They pay the bills presented; but if an injured party wants a settlement, they have to ask for it.
You May Need Help
When a hit and run driver damages your car and injures your family, there are a lot of issues to resolve. You might be able to handle the coverage and liability problems. Your negotiation skills could come in handy when it’s time to settle your Uninsured Motorist claim. But if you decide to concentrate on healing and let a professional take care of the rest, feel free to contact us. We can help