Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can be a scary experience. In the aftermath of a collision, it is crucial for you to seek medical care, but will you be able to recover compensation for your injuries and property damage?
We strongly suggest that you work with a skilled car accident attorney who has experience handling hit-and-run accidents in California. An attorney will be able to explore all avenues of recovery and compensation on your behalf.
If the Hit-and-Run Driver is Caught
When we look at California Vehicle Code § 20002, we can see that a hit-and-run is a misdemeanor offense that can carry up to six months in jail as well as a $1,000 fine. There are other additional penalties that a person could face, including probation, restitution for property damage, as well as points against page driving record. Hit-and-run offenses that result in serious bodily injury or death could lead to felony charges with much more severe penalties.
If you have been struck by a driver who fled the scene, and the driver is later located (either because they turned themselves in or they were apprehended by law enforcement officials), then you may be able to recover compensation for your losses through their insurance carrier. However, there is a decent chance that a hit-and-run driver does not have insurance, and that could be one of the reasons they fled the scene.
In California, all drivers are legally required to carry the following types and minimums of auto insurance:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident minimum
- Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum
If the hit-and-run driver was legally insured, you should be able to recover compensation for your property damage and injuries up to the minimum amount of coverage of the policy. However, if the hit-and-run driver does not have insurance, your options are more limited. You could file a personal injury lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver, but this may not be fruitful. If a driver does not have auto insurance, they may not have the assets available to pay any damages awarded in your case.
Turning to Your Own Insurance Carrier
Victims of hit-and-run accidents may need to turn to their personal auto insurance carrier to recover compensation for their losses. In the state of California, motorists are not required to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. However, we strongly recommend that all drivers carry uninsured motorist coverage. Drivers who do have this coverage will be able to turn to their own insurance carrier to recover compensation for bodily injury and property damage expenses up to the limits of their policy.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not terribly expensive and is well worth it in the event a hit-and-run accident does occur. We strongly encourage you to turn to a skilled car accident attorney in San Bernardino who can help you with every aspect of your claim. A lawyer will use their resources to fully investigate the incident and explore all possible paths of recovering compensation for your losses.