Any car accident can be incredibly painful and overwhelming. Things can get worse if your accident involves a hit and run driver. You’re stuck with an injury, a damaged vehicle, and rising accident-related expenses. The person who caused your accident fled the scene and is nowhere to be found. Fortunately, you still have the right to recover compensation after a hit and run accident. It just might take a little bit longer to get the money you deserve.
California Leads the Nation in Hit and Run Accidents
You’re more likely than others to be involved in a hit and run accident if you live in the state of California. Accident statistics show that there are more hit and run crashes in the Golden State than any other state in the nation.
Not only does California have more overall hit and run accidents, but it’s also home to the highest number of fatal hit and run crashes. In 2016, there were 2,049 fatal hit and run accidents in the United States. More than 16 percent of those fatal crashes occurred in the state of California. Texas and Florida were not far behind, accounting for 10.8 percent and 10 percent of fatal hit and run car accidents, respectively.
Options If You’ve Been Involved in a Hit and Run Accident
When you’re in a car accident and it’s clear that someone else is to blame, recovering the compensation you deserve can be fairly simple. You submit a personal injury claim with that driver’s insurance company and/or file a civil personal injury lawsuit. There’s no question about who was in the other car.
Things are more complicated when a driver flees the scene of an accident. It can be difficult to track a hit and run driver down. In the frenzy of the crash, you may not have been able to get a good look at the driver or their vehicle. You may have only been able to catch a fragment of their license plate information. It could take the police time to find the person who caused your accident.
Fortunately, you don’t have wait for the hit and run driver to be located to recover compensation. If you have car insurance, you can submit a claim to receive benefits from your insurance company. Collision insurance, which is required by law, can cover the cost of damage to your property (after a deductible is paid, of course). If you opt into uninsured motorist coverage, your medical bills and the costs of your bodily injury can also be covered.
It’s important to note that your car insurance policy, including your uninsured motorist coverage, should protect you even if you’re not behind the wheel. Your policy should cover you if you’re injured in a hit and run accident as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations In a Hit and Run Case
You typically have two years from the date of your accident to initiate a civil lawsuit for damages. What happens if two years go by and the hit and run driver still hasn’t been identified or found? What if that driver has remained out of the state?
The statute of limitations can be tolled when circumstances beyond your control prevent you from pursuing your claim. In other words, your claim won’t be prohibited just because the hit and run driver (a) isn’t out of the state or (b) hasn’t been identified. The statute of limitations that applies to your case will be tolled – or paused – until they’re located and within the jurisdiction of the state. This protects your right to hold them accountable and recover the money you deserve.
Always consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer if you’re involved in a hit and run accident. You shouldn’t be denied the compensation you need just because the other driver fled the scene. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights.