You probably need a car accident lawyer after a Los Angeles hit-and-run accident, especially if you cannot locate the driver. California is an at-fault auto insurance state. Consequently, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which would have applied to your hit-and-run car accident claim, is unavailable in California.
You might need a lawyer to help you find alternative sources of compensation, among other reasons.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a vehicle collides with any object of value, including a person, and leaves the scene of the accident without providing the information listed below. Hit-and-run could mean scratching a car’s paint in a mall parking lot. Alternatively, it could mean killing someone in a DUI accident. California law requires drivers to:
- Remain at the scene of an accident regardless of fault;
- Move their vehicles out of traffic to avoid another accident;
- Exchange certain information such as their name, address, and vehicle registration number; and
- Offer “reasonable assistance” to anyone who is injured.
In addition to bearing civil liability, a hit-and-run can be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony.
Who pays your damages for a hit-and-run accident if the driver is never found? California’s mandatory liability insurance won’t. You might have several other options, but all of them are based on optional insurance coverage.
If you only purchased mandatory insurance coverage, you might be out of luck. However, if you find the other driver and they carry liability insurance, you can file a third-party claim against their liability insurance policy.
Types of Insurance That Might Pay Your Claim
The following types of optional insurance coverage might pay all or part of your damages from a hit-and-run accident.
California Med Pay
California Med Pay insurance works like PIP insurance does in no-fault states. The main difference is that it is optional. Med Pay offers the following advantages:
- It covers medical bills and, if necessary, funeral expenses.
- It covers you and your family members;
- It covers you as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian. It covers you even if you were a passenger in someone else’s car and if you were injured on public transportation.
- You can purchase policies with limits ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.
Med Pay does not cover property damage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist insurance offers limited coverage for hit-and-run accidents. It will pay medical expenses, but it will not pay for property damage. California law requires auto insurance companies to offer UIM. The insurance company will add it to your mandatory liability insurance policy unless you sign a document that specifically refuses UIM coverage. Coverage limits are the same as the limits on your liability insurance policy.
Collision insurance is a type of optional no-fault property damage insurance. It covers damage to your car. The only downside is that a deductible will probably apply.
Your health insurance might cover injuries from a hit-and-run accident. Check the language of your policy.
How a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you suffer a hit-and-run accident, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you in many ways. Your lawyer can:
- Examine your insurance policies to find out whether they will cover your damages. They can also talk back to the insurance company if they try to deny coverage by misconstruing the language of your policy.
- Perform an investigation to locate the at-fault driver.
- File a lawsuit against the driver or their insurance company if they can locate the driver.
- Advise you against mistakes you might make that could damage your claim (discussing your case on social media, for example).
- Estimate the value of your claim.
- Negotiate with the insurance company for a generous settlement.
- File a lawsuit if necessary. Filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a trial. Once you file a lawsuit, you will have access to certain legal procedures that can help you gather evidence that might put you in a stronger bargaining position.
Your lawyer might be able to assist you in many other ways, depending on your circumstances.
Seek an Auto Accident Lawyer for a Free Initial Consultation
If you suffer a hit-and-run accident, you might not know whether your claim is viable. Even if your claim is viable, you might need a lawyer to help you estimate its value. You have little to lose by scheduling a free initial consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.