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Why Do I Need to Hire a Hit and Run Accident Attorney?

Why Do I Need to Hire a Hit and Run Accident Attorney?

The following scenario is frustrating and scary but not uncommon: you are driving when another car hits you and speeds off without stopping. You have just been in what is known as a “hit and run” accident. While hit-and-runs are not uncommon, people who become victims of these accidents frequently require legal assistance.

But why would I need a hit-and-run accident attorney?” you might wonder. You can benefit from an attorney handling all legal matters after a hit-and-run accident. However, everyone’s situation is unique, so whether or not you need to hire a hit-and-run accident lawyer depends on the specifics of your accident.

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Risks of Not Having an Attorney After a Hit and Run Accident

Why Do I Need to Hire a Hit and Run Accident Lawyer?A hit-and-run accident can be a terrifying and confusing situation to be involved in. Opting to handle the problem without the guidance of an attorney can leave you vulnerable and may even make your struggles harder to deal with. Below are some of the risks associated with not hiring an attorney after a hit and run:

  • You may miss out on compensation. An attorney knows how to value your claim and will fight for every dollar you are entitled to through all available sources. Without an attorney’s guidance, you risk underestimating the worth of your claim and missing out on the total compensation you need for recovery. Or worse, you may not file a claim because you think you aren’t entitled to compensation in a hit-and-run accident.
  • You may not have the opportunity to find the hit-and-run driver. Attorneys often work with private investigators and use various legal resources to identify and locate the fleeing driver. Without an attorney, you may not have access to these investigative tools, which may reduce the likelihood of bringing the responsible party to justice.
  • You may end up accepting the insurer’s quick settlement. Insurance companies may offer quick settlements to close the case prematurely. This is often done by taking advantage of the victim’s vulnerable state and their need for at least any sum of money. Without an attorney’s negotiation skills and guidance, you might accept an offer that falls short of covering your long-term needs and financial losses.
  • You may have a hard time navigating the legal process. The legal system can be daunting. With its intricate rules and procedures, victims who attempt to navigate the system alone may struggle to manage their claims effectively. An attorney will handle all aspects of the legal process, from filing claims to representing you in court, ensuring your rights are upheld at every step.
  • You may miss the deadlines. There are strict deadlines for filing insurance claims and lawsuits, known as statutes of limitations. These deadlines vary from state to state. In California, for example, injured victims have two years from the accident date to sue the responsible party. Missing these deadlines can forfeit your right to compensation. By working with a lawyer, you can ensure that your paperwork is filed on time.
  • You may not know when to take your case to court. Sometimes, the path to compensation requires litigation. Knowing whether – and when – to take your case to court requires a deep understanding of civil law and procedure. Without this knowledge, you risk prematurely escalating to litigation or missing the opportunity to file a lawsuit when negotiation falls through.

Always consider speaking with an attorney to understand how you can benefit from seeking legal counsel. They will be honest with you regarding whether your situation requires their assistance or not. Car accident lawyers do not want to take cases that have no need for representation or little chance of success.

Ways a Hit and Run Accident Attorney Can Help

You may not fully appreciate the potential advantages of legal counsel without understanding the role of an attorney in the process. In particular, if you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, an attorney can:

  • Launch a prompt investigation to find the driver. A key benefit of hiring an attorney after a hit and run is their ability to investigate the incident promptly. They use their resources and connections to track down the driver who fled the scene. Contacting an attorney can help kickstart the investigation while the trail is still fresh.
  • Explore your options for compensation. Whether the at-fault driver is found or not, you may have avenues for compensation. An attorney can help you identify those options. It may include considering potential claims against your insurance policy under uninsured motorist coverage and exploring other possible sources of compensation.
  • Assess and document your damages. Your attorney will prepare a comprehensive claim to ensure that you seek an amount that reflects the accident’s impact on your life. Keep detailed records of all damage and expenses incurred from the accident – from medical bills to car repairs and lost income.
  • File the necessary paperwork to obtain compensation. The aftermath of a hit-and-run often involves an immense amount of paperwork. Filing and preparing the documentation correctly is essential. Your attorney will ensure that you meet any and all legal requirements and deadlines when filing the paperwork. Having an attorney relieves you of the many complexities and technicalities involved in the legal process.
  • Negotiate with the insurance company. Your attorney should be well-versed in dealing with insurers, skilled in negotiation, and tenaciously committed to ensuring your rights and interests are front and center. Since insurance companies can be tough negotiators, having an attorney may allow you to push for a fair settlement.
  • Help you make decisions throughout the case. You will have to face decisions that can affect the outcome throughout your case. Your attorney will offer their invaluable advice and guidance to help you make well-informed decisions about your case from start to finish.
  • File a lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in court. Statistics show that 97 percent of all tort claims, including claims from hit-and-run accidents, are settled out of court. However, sometimes going to court is unavoidable. When this happens, you might want to be represented by legal counsel with litigation experience. Your attorney will help prepare your case so you can present it in the best light possible to the judge or jury.

If you are still unsure whether you need to hire a hit-and-run accident attorney, consider scheduling a consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Hiring an Attorney After a Hit and Run Accident

Before hiring an attorney, you must understand when to contact one, what to look for before retaining legal counsel, and how much the attorney’s services may cost.

When to Contact a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer

Contacting an attorney as soon as possible is generally a good idea. An attorney can help through the complexities of your case and work to protect your rights from the day you are involved in a hit-and-run accident. Here’s when you should consider reaching out:

  • Immediately after the accident. Once you have received medical attention and reported the incident to the police, a consultation with an attorney will help you understand your options for compensation.
  • Before speaking to insurance companies. As mentioned earlier, insurers can quickly settle, often to their benefit. With an attorney, you are less likely to accept a settlement amount lower than your case is worth.
  • If you face legal issues. Hit and run cases can become complicated quickly, especially if the fleeing driver is later identified. A lawyer can handle the legal proceedings for you to ease your burden.

To sum up: seeking legal advice early can be instrumental in the success of your case.

What to Look for in a Hit and Run Accident Attorney

You shouldn’t just hire any attorney you find online. Here are some of the key qualifications and traits you should consider:

  • Experience in hit-and-run cases. You want someone who has a track record of successfully handling similar cases.
  • Knowledgeable of state laws. Hit-and-run laws can vary significantly by state. Ensure your attorney is well-versed in the local laws and procedures.
  • Availability and responsiveness. Your attorney should be available to address your concerns and provide updates on your case.
  • Trustworthiness and compassion. This can be a stressful time, and you need an attorney who shows empathy and provides reliable support.

By hiring an attorney with all or most of these qualities, you can rest assured that your case is in competent hands.

The Cost of Hiring an Attorney

Concerns about cost should not deter you from seeking legal representation. Here’s what you should know about attorney fees as a victim of a hit-and-run accident:

  • Contingency fees. Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only collect if you win or settle your case.
  • Understanding fee structures. If contingency fees are not an option, understand how the attorney will charge. It can be flat fees, hourly rates, or retainer fees.
  • Discussing costs upfront. Transparency is key. A good attorney will always discuss all fees and potential costs upfront to avoid surprises down the line.

While costs are always a consideration, hiring a skilled attorney can mean the difference between insufficient coverage of your losses and a settlement that fully compensates for your injuries and damages.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Hit and Run Accidents

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Hit and Run AccidentsAfter a hit-and-run accident, you may not have all the answers readily available. Below, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions following these accidents.

What should I do if someone hits my car and drives off?

First and foremost, take a moment to stay calm and ensure your safety. Check for injuries and move to a safe location if possible. If you can, write down any details of the fleeing vehicle, such as make, model, color, license plate number, or the direction in which they took off. Look around to see if any witnesses or cameras may have recorded the incident. Call the police to report the accident immediately and provide them with all the collected information.

  • Note: By not stopping immediately at the scene of the accident, the fleeing driver is violating the law if the accident caused bodily injury to others or death.

How do I report a hit and run?

To report a hit and run, you must call the police immediately. If the incident occurred on a public road and you are still at the scene, call 911 for law enforcement to respond. Provide as much information as possible, including a description of the vehicle and any identifying details. If the police do not come to the accident scene, you may need to file a police report at the station or online. In California, for example, this can be done using the SR-1 form (Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California).

Do I have to inform my insurance company of the accident?

Yes, have your attorney inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Most insurance policies require you to report accidents within a reasonable time frame. It allows insurers to process claims more effectively. The insurance company’s representative will likely ask for details of the incident and any police report number you received.

Does a non-fault claim affect my insurance?

A non-fault claim may sometimes affect your insurance premiums. Insurance providers consider the likelihood of future claims when determining premium amounts. A history of accidents can potentially increase this risk factor in their analysis, even when you are not at fault. However, specifics will vary by insurance company and policy, so you might want to discuss this with your provider.

Does insurance cover hit-and-runs?

Uninsured motorist coverage may cover a hit-and-run if included in your policy. This type of coverage, which is optional in the state, can pay for:

  • Medical expenses for you and your passengers and
  • Damage to your vehicle.

As the name suggests, uninsured motorist coverage kicks in when a driver without insurance causes an accident. However, it also applies to hit-and-run scenarios. Check with your insurer to understand the coverage limits and whether your policy includes hit-and-run coverage.

Never wait to consult a personal injury lawyer near you following this stressful event. They can advise on your best options.

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