New York’s no-fault auto insurance laws provide compensation for drivers regardless of fault. This insurance system is beneficial in a hit and run accident because it allows you to recover compensation even if an at-fault driver leaves the scene. But if your damages exceed your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or you suffer serious injuries, it can be difficult to recover the full amount of your damages.
Before you file an insurance claim for a hit and run accident in New York, make sure you understand the basic process and what to expect when seeking a fair settlement. Buttafuoco & Associates can help. Call us at 1-800-NOW-HURT to speak with a New York car accident lawyer.
The Basics of a Hit and Run Accident
In a hit and run accident, there is no other motorist to hold liable for your damages. Therefore, if you suffer serious injuries or lose a loved one, there is no other insurance against which to claim damages. While your PIP benefits may cover some of your injuries, many hit and run victims need to seek additional benefits and legal help to cover all of their damages.
You may have options on your own policy beyond your PIP coverage, but it is important to take steps that may help locate the at-fault driver. If police find the driver, you may be able to file a lawsuit against him or her to pursue damages.
So if the other driver flees the scene, report the hit and run to the local police. The police will document the crash site and collect information from witnesses. Provide as much information about the other vehicle as you can. This includes:
- Make and model of vehicle
- Type of vehicle (e.g., sedan, coupe, pickup truck, etc.)
- Color of vehicle
- Distinguishing features (e.g., bumper sticker, custom auto work, etc.)
- Information about other driver (e.g., hair and skin color, gender, etc.)
- How the accident happened (this may help police estimate the location of damage on the other vehicle – e.g., front end damage if the driver rear-ended you)
Using Your Insurance after a Hit and Run
Again, your first option for seeking damages after a hit and run is your PIP coverage. Your PIP policy limits should cover minor accidents and injuries, up to your policy limits. New York requires drivers carry $50,000 in PIP benefits. If you opted for Additional PIP benefits, you might seek further compensation under that part of your policy.
Another integral insurance coverage that factors into a hit and run accident is uninsured motorist coverage (UM). This type of optional coverage provides compensation for accidents caused by a motorist without insurance. But it also covers hit and run accidents, as the other driver is absent and there is no other insurance against which to file a claim.
Other insurance options may include your health insurance coverage or life insurance benefits in the event of dismemberment or death of a loved one.
The Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Act
The state of New York understands there are situations where a person may be seriously injured or killed in an accident where there is little opportunity for compensation. The Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Act helps victims of hit and run accidents and similar instances where another driver’s insurance or identity is unknown.
This Act provides a victim the ability to file a claim with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC). Claimants may do so when they are injured by an uninsured vehicle and do not have UM coverage. Compensation from the MVAIC is limited to $25,000 per person for injury and $50,000 per person for death, and $50,000 per accident for injury and $100,000 per accident for death.
New York’s Insurance Law §5217 states there must be physical contact between the fleeing vehicle and the person claiming injuries or the vehicle they occupied at the time of the crash. You may be able prove your case meets this criteria with evidence such as:
- Video footage of the accident
- Witness statements
- Assessment of vehicle damage
- Medical records
- Police reports
What happens if the police locate the other driver?
If the police identify and locate the hit and run driver, they will likely place him under arrest and he or she will face charges. If you can prove his or her negligence caused your injuries, you may proceed with a standard car accident lawsuit against that at-fault driver.
Recovering Damages after a Hit and Run Can Be Difficult
Buttafuoco & Associates understands how difficult it can be to recover damages after a hit and run accident. We strive to give our full support and guidance to clients seeking compensation after a serious accident with an absentee driver.
Call 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free case review.