“I was sitting in my parked vehicle in a parallel parking spot along a street and some other vehicle hit me and sped off. I have no idea who they are, but I’m injured and my car is damaged. What can I do?”
I’m Katelyn Holub, a personal injury attorney practicing law in northwest Indiana.
Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.
Today we’ll take a look at the topic of hit and run collisions. We recently received a question from a listener who was sitting in their parked vehicle, in a parallel parking spot along a street, when another unknown vehicle hit their vehicle and then sped off. Not only is the person facing medical bills from their injuries, but their car is damaged as well, and they want to know what their legal rights are in this kind of hit and run situation.
In a typical hit and run collision, you don’t know who the person is who hit your vehicle. They fled the scene before any identification could be made. In some situations, you might be able to eventually track down the person who hit you if you get their license plate information, in which case you would proceed to make a claim against that driver (and their insurance).
But, for purposes of this podcast episode, let’s focus on those situations in which you have no clue who hit you.
In Indiana, the type of insurance coverage that often covers hit and run collisions by unknown drivers is called uninsured motorist coverage, and it is usually a part of your own automobile insurance policy.
These types of cases involve bringing a claim against your own insurance company, rather than the other driver’s insurance company, since the other driver fled the scene and is unknown.
Now, not all uninsured motorist coverage provides for hit and run situations. Each individual policy has different language. Those that do cover hit and run collisions usually require that there be physical contact between your vehicle and the one that fled the scene.
So why do most policies require physical contact, you might ask? Physical contact is often a requirement in order to lower the instances of insurance fraud, in which people are just making up a story that they were hit. The insurance company wants to make sure there’s been a genuine HIT and then a run.
Now, if the “hit” or physical contact wasn’t directly from the other vehicle, but the other vehicle kicked up some debris (like a rock) that hit and cracked your windshield, that can be sufficient physical contact to make a claim, depending on your policy language.
If there’s no physical contact between your vehicles, then the question of whether there’s coverage for the incident gets a little more tricky and the policy language has to be examined carefully to see if a claim can still be brought.
For example, if another driver cuts you off and forces you off the road, that would be an accident caused by an unknown driver, but it doesn’t involve any physical contact. Even when there’s been no physical contact, some policies still allow a claim to be made. Again, you may notice a theme here, it all depends on the specific language of your policy.
In situations like a hit and run claim, where you are potentially bringing a claim against your own insurance company, it is important to get an attorney. Because each policy has unique language and coverage options, don’t just assume that you’re out of luck because you don’t know who hit your vehicle. Most attorneys don’t charge you anything for an initial consultation, and you should show the attorney your insurance policy so that they can determine what coverage you have and can advise you further.
Also, in these hit and run collision cases it is crucial to consult with an attorney promptly after the collision because time can be of the essence in making a claim. Oftentimes, insurance policies are written with very short deadlines for hit and run claims – some requiring you give them notice within 90 days of the incident.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.