Who Pays in a Hit and Run Accident?
You're driving the speed limit on the freeway, on your way home from work, when a car traveling recklessly suddenly changes lanes and sideswipes your vehicle. The impact causes you to lose control of your vehicle, and you strike the median wall. You look around for the car that hit you, but it is nowhere in sight. You're the victim of a textbook hit and run car accident.
This is a situation that is far too common, and one that we at The Law Office of Joumana Kayrouz, deal with on a regular basis. Many drivers believe that because there is no other driver to be seen, they can not file a claim for benefits. This is untrue. As long as your auto insurance policy has certain provisions included, you will be covered. That is why it is so important to choose the right coverage options for you and your family.
What Kind of Car Insurance Coverage Do You Have?
So, the question of "who pays" in a hit and run accident is usually answered by referring to the terms of your car insurance policy.
Michigan is a No-Fault coverage state, which means your own car insurance policy (typically it's called "personal injury protection" or "PIP" coverage) will provide compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and cost of replacement services (to assist you with your daily chores and activities).
While no-fault/PIP coverage will compensate you for your economic losses, regardless of who caused the accident, no-fault/PIP won't provide compensation for your "pain and suffering" and other non-economic losses caused by the car accident.
If you have collision coverage (which applies to damage to your vehicle), you'll be able to make a claim for vehicle damage caused by the hit and run driver, but you will also have to pay any deductible on your collision
coverage (the deductible might otherwise be recoverable from the at-fault driver, but obviously not in a hit-and-run case). And remember that collision coverage will have no bearing on your injuries; it only applies to vehicle damage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If the driver and owner of the vehicle that struck you cannot be found, uninsured motorist coverage may your best (and only) source of recovery for your losses. Instead of bringing a claim against the responsible driver (which isn't possible after a hit-and-run), your claim will be against your own insurance company. Your insurance company's obligation will be limited by the amount of uninsured motorist coverage you have purchased, and you may ultimately have to bring a lawsuit against your insurer if you cannot reach a settlement of your claim. That is why having a high Uninsured Motorist Coverage limit on you policy is extremely important, you never know when you may be a victim of a hit and run accident.