What happens after a hit and run accident in New York?
Often following a car accident both vehicles are left in condition which does not allow one vehicle to flee the scene. This is, of course, not always the case.
As demonstrated tragically in a January 2018 accident in Rotterdam, sometimes car accident victims are left on their own following an accident, when the wrongdoer - often in some misguided attempt to escape - leaves the scene. The tragic story of a Rotterdam man - killed while walking to the bus from his job at Walmart, and left in the snow for hours - highlights the serious risks of hit and run auto accidents. Fortunately police were able to identify and arrest the alleged operator of the car that struck, left and ultimately killed the man.
For the most part we all know that leaving the scene of an accident is illegal, and as in the Rotterdam, NY accident case, the wrongdoer can be arrested and charged with multiple crimes (including vehicular homicide). But what about the victim, or the victim's family in cases where the victim is deceased?
No fault and insurance in hit and run accidents
When someone is hurt following a hit and run accident, they are left to deal with all of the usual problems associated with an accident, as well as the added problem of trying to figure out how to pay for what happened. This is where No Fault insurance comes in. Generally speaking, a person who was injured in a hit and run accident will be entitled to benefits under the No Fault law, which will cover medical expenses (among other things) up to a certain threshold.
But what about significant losses?
First, as happened in Rotterdam, often the police will be able to identify and track down the operator of the vehicle that caused the accident and fled the scene. In this case the accident victim may be able to make a claim for damages against the insurance company for the other driver. Keep in mind, however, that the actions of the other driver - in engaging in criminal activity while operating the car - may give the insurance company an excuse to deny coverage (many insurance policies have clauses that terminate coverage if/when the driver engages in criminal activity.
The other avenue for the victim of a hit and run accident is to make a claim for supplemental underinsured or uninsured motorist benefits (commonly known as "SUM" or "UM" benefits). These benefits are available under your own insurance policy, and are meant to compensate a victim when the other driver either had insufficient insurance coverage, or had no coverage at all. All drivers in New York State are required to carry some form of SUM/UM benefits, however the amount will vary based upon your policy coverages.
While the tragedy of a hit and run accident cannot be undone, there may be hope for the family of the victim. Hard work may help to track down avenues to assist the family in a very difficult time. And that's what we do, so if you have questions about a hit and run accident, contact us today.