In 2012, there were 11,762 hit and run collisions in the state of Arizona. A total of 36 of these crashes were fatal and 2,374 caused injuries according to Arizona Department of Transportation. Hit and run collisions may be serious crashes because of the delay in getting medical attention when a driver leaves the crash scene. Many drivers also hit and run because they are impaired or otherwise breaking the law, such as by speeding. Drunk and high speed crashes tend to cause more serious injuries and there is a greater risk of the crashes being fatal.
If you or someone you love was injured or killed by a driver who left the crash scene, you need to understand how to handle a hit and run claim. One of your best options is to contact a legal professional who can help best protect your rights and your financial well-being.
How to Handle a Hit and Run Claim
The best situation when a hit and run happens is for law enforcement to find the driver who actually struck your vehicle and caused the crash. If the responsible driver can be identified through a crash investigation, it is often possible to pursue a damage claim against him. The hit and run driver will hopefully have insurance coverage, and you can use evidence from the police report and other law enforcement investigations in order to show the driver's insurer should be responsible for compensating you.
Unfortunately, sometimes the driver is not caught by police. If the driver has not been apprehended, you may be able to get coverage from your own insurer. In Arizona, the only types of coverage required are bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage. You are not mandated to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, but you may opt to buy these policies anyway so you are protected in case of a hit and run. Uninsured motorist coverage can kick in when the other driver lacks insurance of lacks insurance adequate to pay for losses.
Uninsured motorist coverage means that your auto insurer stands in for the driver whose insurance should have paid for crash damages. Because you are dealing with your own insurance company, the process for recovering compensation can differ from the process when you are dealing with another driver's insurer. However, many find even dealing with their own insurer can be challenging, and an experienced auto accident attorney may best be consulted. If your insurer fails to provide you with the compensation dictated by your coverage, you can make a bad faith claim.
If the other driver is identified but had no insurance or insufficient insurance, you may also rely on your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. It is sometimes possible to make a claim against the other driver so he or she will pay personally from assets. However, far too many drivers involved in hit-and-runs do not have sufficient assets to pay a judgment after losing a lawsuit.