I Was Involved in a Hit and Run. Do I Still Have a Case?
According to statistics compiled by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), in January 2023, there were 7,191 motor vehicles involved citywide in accidents, with 1,530 motorists and 1,017 passengers injured. The largest cause of accidents was “driver inattention/distraction.” The statistics are alarming enough, but they say nothing about the frequency of hit-and-run accidents.
What happens if another vehicle crashes into your car, and pushes you off to the side of the road, dazed and injured? Then they speed away before you can get the license number or other identifying information. In a hit and run, you may wonder if you can make an insurance claim to recover for your medical expenses, car damage, and any other loss.
Under New York’s auto insurance requirements, you are required not only to have basic liability insurance to pay for injuries and property damage you cause to others but also to have personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Your PIP coverage should reimburse you for any medical expenses, and the uninsured/underinsured coverage might also cover your injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit-and-run accident in New York City or Long Island, contact me at the Law Office of Steven R. Smith. I can handle your claim and negotiate for the just settlement you deserve from your insurance company. I also proudly serve clients in Hempstead, Westbury, Mineola, and New Hyde Park.
New York Is a No-Fault Insurance State
To drive a vehicle anywhere in New York, there are three mandatory requirements. First is liability coverage for injury and damages you cause to others. This is known as 25/50/10. The 25 refers to $25,000 in liability coverage for injuries you cause to one person; the 50 refers to $50,000 for two or more injured in the accident you cause; and the ten refers to $10,000 for property damage you cause to others.
Another component is personal injury protection (PIP). This is where you would first turn if you’re injured in an accident. PIP provides $50,000 per person. The final mandatory requirement is uninsured/underinsured motorist, which provides $25,000 in bodily injury coverage for one person, and $50,000 for more than one injured if the other driver is uninsured or poorly insured.
Your PIP coverage should cover any medical expenses related to your injuries. In some cases, when your injuries are severe enough – fractures, disfigurement, loss of an organ or body part – you can file a personal injury lawsuit. In a hit-and-run, however, unless police manage to catch the culprit, you really have no one to sue. You have three years after your injuries to file a lawsuit, so even if the runaway driver isn’t found for months, you could still file suit.
What to Do in a Hit and Run
Your first instinct when someone slams into you and speeds away might to be chase after the vehicle. This is not a good idea. You could end up with further property damage or personal injuries in the process, or worse, you yourself might get in a wreck during your high-speed pursuit. Stay put, but if your car is still on the roadway, pull over to the shoulder so you don’t expose yourself to further damage.
Call the police and have them investigate. This could be vital if you ever do get the chance to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you are injured and need medical help, call for that immediately. Remember, when you’re involved in a collision, your body will produce an adrenaline rush, so you may not feel any pain or injuries for hours, days, or even a week or more later. Make sure you get evaluated as soon as possible, even if you’re not feeling any pain or injury yet.
You need to get as much information as you can at the scene, provided you’re not so injured that you need immediate medical attention. Try to get the make, model, and color description of the other vehicle and the license plate number if possible. If you have a good view of the driver, write down the description.
Use your phone to take pictures or videos of what happened – damage to your vehicle, your injuries or your passengers’ injuries, any roadside traffic signs that the driver may have violated, and even the road or highway itself. When you get a chance, either record or write down all the details of what happened. If there were any witnesses, speak to them and get their version of what happened, along with their contact information.
Your insurance policy no doubt has a provision requiring timely reporting of claims, so you should start the claims process as soon as you can. It’s best to have a medical evaluation before filing the claim, so you may have to go to a clinic or ER to be examined.
Once you notify your insurance company, consult with a car accident/personal injury attorney and let them deal with the claims adjuster who will be assigned to your case. Letting an attorney do the negotiating almost invariably results in a more just settlement.
Protect Your Health and Your Future
If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit-and-run anywhere in the Five Boroughs or on Long Island, contact me immediately at the Law Office of Steven R. Smith. I will handle the insurance process and fight for the just compensation due you. While you recover, I’ll deal with the questions and back-and-forth with the claims adjuster.