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Hit and run crashes are a serious problem in Wilmington and across the United States, as the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that one happens somewhere in the country every 43 seconds.
The consequences of a hit-and-run accident can be devastating for its victims, who are often left on their own to face the aftermath of a collision they didn’t cause. These consequences can include expensive medical and repair bills, lost income from time missed at work, and the emotional and physical toll of the injuries themselves.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident in Wilmington, North Carolina, you could still have options for securing compensation even if the at-fault driver is never found. At Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, our compassionate and dedicated attorneys want to help you pursue it. For more than four decades, we have sought justice for our clients and helped them demand the compensation they deserve after accidents that weren’t their fault. Let us do the same for you.
Contact us today for a free case review with a hit-and-run accident lawyer in Wilmington, NC.
How to Seek Compensation After a Hit and Run
In most car accident cases, an injured victim files an insurance claim with the insurance provider of the driver at fault for causing the crash. But what happens in a hit-and-run case if the driver who caused the accident cannot be found?
Depending on the circumstances, you could be entitled to seek compensation from one or more of the following sources:
- An injury claim against another motorist – If you can identify the hit-and-run driver or another motorist who caused the accident, you could have grounds to file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against them.
- Your uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) policy – Under North Carolina law, drivers must maintain UM/UIM coverage. These types of coverage pay for injuries and property damage caused by drivers without insurance or with insufficient insurance. Your UM/UIM policy carrier will treat a hit-and-run crash like an accident with an uninsured motorist.
- Your Medical Payments (MedPay) policy – This type of insurance covers medical expenses associated with crash injuries that affect you, your family members, your passengers, and other authorized users of your vehicle. This coverage is optional, but if you choose to include it in your policy, you should be entitled to coverage for any medical bills you incur due to the accident, no matter who was at fault for the wreck.
- Your health insurance policy – If you exhaust the limits of your auto insurance policy, you could also rely on your health insurance for coverage after a car accident. Keep in mind that you are typically expected to use any available auto insurance coverage before you resort to your health insurance.
Why Some Motorists Flee the Scene After an Accident
Fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal in North Carolina, yet some drivers do so anyway.
Some common reasons motorists leave the scene include:
- Lack of required auto liability insurance – All North Carolina drivers are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance. Drivers on the road without the proper insurance may flee to avoid criminal charges or fines for driving while illegally uninsured.
- Driving with no license or a suspended license – If the other driver forgot their license at home, had their license suspended due to legal issues, or simply has no license, they might flee the scene to avoid additional loss of driving privileges or other repercussions.
- Driving under the influence (DUI) or other violations – If the other driver is drunk, high, or violating another law when the accident occurs, they may flee the scene to avoid being charged for their infractions.
- Outstanding warrants or other legal issues – Some drivers decide to run if they are subject to outstanding warrants or have other legal problems and want to avoid law enforcement.
- Lack of awareness of the legal duty to stop – Ignorance of the law is not a defense. Still, inexperienced drivers may not know of the legal responsibility to stop and remain at the scene of an accident.
- “Fight or flight” reflexes brought on by panic – Some people respond poorly to stressful situations. These drivers may panic after an accident and follow their fight-or-flight response, even if they are not at fault for the collision. In these situations, the driver might return to the scene or notify authorities once they calm down.
How to Find a Hit and Run Driver
If you or the police locate a hit-and-run driver after an accident, you can file a claim against their insurance policy for compensation. You can improve the chances that the hit-and-run driver is caught by:
- Recording every detail you can remember about the crash, including the type and color of the other vehicle and a physical description of the other driver
- Speaking to eyewitnesses who saw the collision occur for additional details
- Talking to owners and employees of nearby businesses who may have seen the crash occur or whose security cameras may have recorded the wreck
What If the Driver Cannot Be Found?
Unfortunately, in many cases, the hit-and-run driver is never found. Fortunately, even if you cannot find the other driver, you should still be entitled to compensation from your own UM/UIM policy or MedPay policy if you have it.
Even though you deal with “your” insurance company in a UM/UIM claim, don’t expect a full recovery without a fight. The insurance company’s main interest is still their bottom line, not providing you with the total compensation you deserve. That’s why you need an attorney who will fight for your best interests.
How Our Attorneys Can Help You with a UM Claim
At Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, our Wilmington injury lawyers can help you obtain the compensation you deserve from a UM/UIM claim after an accident by:
- Calculating the full extent of your losses
- Conducting an independent investigation into the crash
- Communicating with the insurance company on your behalf
- Obtaining medical records, accident reports, and other helpful evidence
- Interviewing eyewitnesses and experts for valuable testimony
- Managing important documents and deadlines on your behalf
- Negotiating aggressively to maximize your settlement
- Taking your case to court if necessary
Contact Our Wilmington NC Hit-and-Run Lawyer Today
If you have questions about your legal rights after a hit-and-run accident in North Carolina, do not hesitate to reach out to Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC. We can answer your questions and evaluate your case for free during an initial consultation session.