A hit-and-run accident is traumatic and life-changing. As one person suddenly realizes they’re facing vehicle damage and bodily injuries, the other person flees the scene. Now what?
Don’t give up. The Michigan hit-and-run accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm have decades of experience with helping people with hit-and-run claims. You have plenty of options after a hit-and-run accident.
We have many techniques for getting our clients’ bills paid and helping them move forward after hit-and-run accidents. We’ve represented accident victims for more than 40 years, fighting to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
If you were in a hit-and-run accident and want to understand your legal options, please contact the Michigan hit-and-run accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm. Call 1-800-LEE-FREE today for a free and confidential consultation.
Reasons Why Michigan Hit-and-Run Accidents Happen
One of the most common reasons that people flee after accidents is that they’re intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Fearing incarceration, they leave the scene of the accident and hope they won’t be caught – or at least that they’ll sober up by the time police show up at their doorstep.
Sometimes hit-and-run drivers are also afraid of being caught for other reasons, like an outstanding warrant, previous convictions that led to jail time, or a fear of interacting with police officers. They also may be uninsured and/or driving without a license.
In some cases, it’s as simple as not wanting to deal with parking tickets they’ve never paid. Or they might have other legal trouble, like a child custody case or a pending business lawsuit.
Distracted driving is also on the rise among hit-and-run drivers and everyone else. A hit-and-run driver might be distracted by their cell phone, music, food, or passengers in the moments before a collision, then flee the scene to avoid the aftermath of the accident they caused.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been tracking distracted driving accidents for decades. According to CDC statistics, distracted driving deaths stayed under 2,000 per year until the early 2000s when handheld tech devices became widespread.
Now there are about 2,800 to 3,500 deaths per year – more than double the previous level – and 400,000 injuries per year due to distracted driving. Each day in the U.S, 8 people die of distracted driving, including innocent non-drivers like pedestrians, cyclists, and scooter riders.
Usually, when drivers hit someone and flee on foot or in their vehicle, something is making them want to avoid interacting with the authorities. They’re hoping there were no witnesses and no video recordings of what happened, but as you’ll learn below, evidence is often easy to locate.
Types of Michigan Hit-and-Run Accidents
Hit and run drivers cause many types of accidents. These accidents tend to be more severe than other traffic accidents because hit-and-run drivers are more likely to be intoxicated and cause crashes at high rates of speed.
Head-on hit-and-runs happen when two vehicles’ front ends smash into one another. The hit-and-run driver may hit you head-on, then drive away or open their door and flee on foot despite being injured or worrying about whether you’re hurt. These can be extremely severe accidents with major bodily injury.
Rear-end hit-and-runs are accidents where one car crashes into another vehicle that’s stopped or slowed in front of it. They often happen when someone is distracted or intoxicated, then suddenly they realize they’ve hit you and they flee.
Side-impact hit-and-runs involve one car hitting the side of the other and frequently occur at intersections. Your car can be rammed off the road, into other traffic, or onto a dangerous area far from the roadway – and meanwhile the hit-and-run driver is fleeing.
Sideswipe hit-and-runs happen when the sides of two parallel vehicles touch one another. These accidents often involve lane changes and merging traffic. A hit-and-run driver may sideswipe you and drive away at a high rate of speed, or they might even cause your car to roll over or crash before fleeing the scene.
Hit-and-Run Accidents and Michigan’s No-Fault Law
Victims of hit-and-run accidents are entitled to protections known as first-party benefits under the Michigan No-Fault Law. No-fault insurance is required by law in Michigan and every car owner must purchase a certain level of coverage if they want to obtain license plates.
When a hit-and-run driver causes your accident, a no-fault insurance claim can cover medical costs, lost wages, and replacement or repair to property that was damaged. The same is true even if you were partially at fault. However, no-fault insurance doesn’t generally cover car repairs.
In Michigan, any basic no-fault insurance policy consists of three parts: personal injury protection (PIP), personal property protection (PPI), and residual liability insurance, which refers to bodily injury and property damage. Here’s how these coverages may apply in a hit-and-run accident.
Michigan PIP protection pays for all reasonably necessary medical expenses, such as hospital bills and doctors’ bills. If you lost income due to the accident, PIP covers up to 85% of that income for up to three years. It also provides a value for things like household chores you can no longer do, with some exceptions.
The amount of medical coverage you get depends on the amount of PIP coverage in the insurance policy that covers your claim. Until 2020, all PIP policies provided unlimited medical coverage. Today policies can be purchased in different amounts, varying from $50,000 to unlimited. Motorists who are eligible can opt-out of purchasing PIP medical coverage all together – although this is not recommended.
Michigan PPI pays up to $1 million in damage someone does to another person’s property, including buildings and surroundings like fences and landscaping. It also covers damage to parked vehicles, but no other car damage.
If you’re worried that the hit-and-run driver could somehow sue you, here’s something good to know. Residual liability insurance protects insured people from being sued unless a special situation applies. The minimum coverage generally covers up to $250,000 for a hurt person and $500,000 for multiple victims.
When someone is killed in a hit-and-run accident, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The compensation received from a wrongful death suit can include costs for funeral and burial, medical bills, lost wages, loss of companionship for the survivors, and pain and suffering.
How Do I Get Compensation After A Hit-and-Run Accident?
Even if the other driver who caused the accident flees the scene and is not identified, it is still possible to get compensation for the injuries caused by a hit-and-run accident. The way to do this is by contacting an experienced and knowledgeable Michigan hit-and-run accident lawyer and hiring the firm to open an “uninsured motorist” claim on your behalf.
An uninsured motorist claim, or UM claim, is an insurance claim that a person can open when they have been injured in a Michigan car accident and the at-fault driver cannot be identified. The claim provides compensation for individuals injured by an uninsured car. It can provide money for pain and suffering as well as medical bills.
An uninsured motorist claim is filed against an auto insurance carrier. There are different ways to file an uninsured motorist claim.
The easiest way is by opening a claim against your own auto insurance carrier. This is possible if the auto insurance policy contains uninsured motorist coverage. Because UM coverage is not mandatory, not all policies have UM coverage. It is something that must be purchased.
However, if you don’t have auto insurance, you still may be covered through the car insurance of a resident relative, or a family member who lives with you. Another avenue is by going through the auto insurance of the vehicle you occupied when the crash occurred. Sometimes the auto insurance company will cover all occupants involved in a crash for uninsured motorist benefits, not just the persons listed in the policy.
The amount of money a person can get in an uninsured motorist case depends on the insurance policy. The state minimum for UM benefits in Michigan is $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.
Why a Michigan Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer is Important
A Michigan hit-and-run is a stressful and traumatic experience. Victims often feel angry at the hit-and-run driver who caused them so much harm then ran away without showing any concern about the crash. What about you, the injured victim?
In some ways, Michigan’s no-fault laws might encourage hit-and-run drivers to avoid accountability for their actions. Someone who flees the scene may believe too much in the concept of “no-fault” and think it allows them to leave a crash without consequences. Not at all!
Committing a hit-and-run is a crime in Michigan and the authorities actively track down drivers who cause accidents, hurt people, and flee the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident that involves severe bodily injury or death can bring a felony criminal conviction with up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines under Section 257.617 of the Michigan Vehicle Code.
A hit-and-run accident in Michigan is a situation where you need a skilled, experienced lawyer to protect your interests as you move forward. Hiring the right lawyer could be a turning point in your life where you’ll regret it later if you don’t handle it correctly and seek the maximum compensation possible.
There are many myths about Michigan hit-and-runs and the need for a lawyer. Some people think you can’t sue a Michigan hit-and-run driver, and that’s not true. You can sue or make an uninsured motorist claim to recover the value of your damages.
Plus, your lawyer can start an investigation into the accident and dig up details about the hit-and-run driver that may help your case. A lawyer can request roadway footage, help you secure videos and statements from local businesses, and much more, bringing a hit-and-run driver out of hiding.
Talk to the Lee Steinberg Law Firm about using Michigan’s no-fault benefits, getting help filing a hit-and-run accident claim, and seeking the full and fair compensation you deserve under the law. No matter how difficult your case is, we’ll assertively work to get the best possible results.
Common Hit-and-Run Accident Injuries
Hit and run accidents tend to be severe, but injuries can range from minor scratches and bruises to major organ damage or even permanent brain damage. After your accident, get an evaluation by a medical professional as soon as possible and save all documentation.
Hit and run accident injuries may include:
- Injuries to the joints, including a torn rotator cuff or knee/ACL
- Fractured hip or pelvis
- Broken bones and ligaments
- Traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI or closed head injury
- Whiplash, including lower back and neck pain
- Spinal injuries
- Herniated and bulging discs in the back and neck
- Scarring and disfigurement
Plus, you may have intense emotional and psychological damage. Car accidents are among the leading causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the United States and the effects on your mental well-being can last for years or even decades. You may need mental health treatment to cope with the effects, and the cost of this therapy could be covered by a hit-and-run accident claim.
The severity and duration of your injuries can vary, with some resolving fairly quickly and others becoming permanent and lifelong. This is why it’s so important to have excellent doctors involved in your care from the first moments after the hit-and-run accident until you are at the point of maximum medical improvement.
What Should I Do After a Michigan Hit-and-Run?
In the first moments after a hit-and-run accident, your priority should be your health and the health of injured people around you. Try not to focus on the hit-and-run driver’s carelessness, but on your own health and safety.
However, it is vital to call the police and make a police report immediately after the accident. It is important law enforcement creates a police report because insurance often requires a police report be prepared within 24 hours of the crash. Failing to do this can jeopardize an injured person’s ability to obtain uninsured motorist benefits or other forms of compensation.
Call 911 for urgent assistance even if you do not feel injured immediately after the crash because you could be more severely injured than you realize. Seek medical treatment from a doctor or hospital.
Often, traumatic injuries resulting from hit-and-run accidents can manifest within a few hours or days of the crash. That’s why you need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and establish an early baseline for your injuries.
At the accident scene, work calmly with the police to provide the basic information they need to make a police report and track down the hit-and-run driver. However, don’t get into extended conversations or arguments. If someone asks detailed questions, these questions can be referred to your lawyer.
If you can, take photographs and videos of the accident scene and share them only with your lawyer. In addition to the vehicles, make sure you photograph any skid marks, debris, and property damage, as well as the damage to your vehicle. Make notes about the weather, road signs, and anything else that could relate to your hit-and-run accident.
The police will typically look over the vehicles involved in the crash, interview witnesses, review the accident scene, take photographs, and call-in accident investigators to perform full accident reconstruction if necessary. Request a copy of their police report, but prepare yourself for the possibility that they will never find the hit-and-run driver.
Next, you should contact an experienced and aggressive Michigan hit-and-run accident attorney with plenty of experience handling cases involving hit-and-run drivers. A good lawyer can launch their own investigation into what happened and reveal surprising information about the hit-and-run driver and the crash itself.
What Damages Are Available in My Hit-and-Run Accident Case?
Generally speaking, your total damages are the sum of your economic and non-economic damages. Your compensation can be quite large, depending on how severely you were injured and what types of other damages you can prove.
Economic damages are the monetary values of the costs you incurred from the accident. Although car repairs aren’t typically covered in Michigan, other economic damages usually are. Your lawyer can help you carefully calculate the value of your economic damages and work to get them covered.
Economic damages may include things like:
- Medical bills
- Therapy bills
- Other property damage
- Lost wages
The non-economic damages in a hit-and-run accident go far beyond the dollars and cents of your accident. While these damages can be harder to calculate and prove, they’re often a large portion of your claim. Work with your lawyer and give great thought and care to developing a full sum of your non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Mental suffering
Don’t make the mistake of undervaluing the deep suffering that’s directly attributable to the traumatic hit-and-run accident. This is a time when terms like “pain and suffering” and “emotional distress” are quite important to your case and should be given their proper value.
A hit-and-run accident is a life-changing experience that shakes up your entire life. You can secure high-value compensation for a variety of losses, which helps you heal and move forward with your life.
Helpful Hit-and-Run Accident Resources:
- Michigan Hit-and-Run Accident Attorneys
- Michigan No-Fault Insurance Information
- How to Start a No-Fault Hit-and-Run Claim
- ASK LEE: Request Free Consultation: Free case evaluation by phone: 1-800-LEE-FREE
Frequently Asked Questions About Hit-and-Run Accident Cases
The information below will answer many of the most basic and frequently asked questions about Michigan hit-and-run accidents. However, every situation is unique. Consult with your lawyer at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm for advice that is specific to your case.
Q: Can I still sue if there was a hit-and-run accident?
A: You have several options for legal action and seeking compensation after a hit-and-run accident. Your lawyer might be able to track down the hit-and-run driver, and/or you can make an uninsured motorist claim or personal injury protection claim. To learn more, read our article about suing after a hit-and-run accident.
Q: What if I was the hit-and-run driver?
A: You’ll need an experienced Michigan defense lawyer who can help the court understand your actions. There are viable defenses to fleeing the scene of the accident, but they’re difficult to use successfully without the help of a talented defense attorney who knows how to present them to the court.
Q: How long does a Michigan hit-and-run accident case typically take?
A: In a broad sense, hit-and-run cases can take longer than other cases because the police may spend some time trying to track down the driver who fled. Your lawyer may do the same as they try to maximize the value of your claim. Arranging a settlement also generally takes less time than a case that goes to court.
So, in terms of a timeframe, you’re probably looking at more than a few weeks but not years. Your case will likely take a few months. If your injuries are extensive or are taking a long time to heal, your lawyer may recommend waiting until the point of maximum medical improvement before moving forward with your case. Call 1-800-LEE-FREE for a more specific estimate.
Q: My doctor urged me not to start legal action yet and wait to see what happens. Should I wait?
A: From a legal perspective, we urge you not to wait. While a doctor can assess your healthcare situation after a hit-and-run accident, they can’t give you an accurate assessment of your legal situation. These cases have legal deadlines that could cause you to miss your chance for compensation.
In Michigan, there is a three-year statute of limitations – or time limit – on claiming bodily injury and other damages. Medical bills and wage loss might need to be claimed within just one year. And if you miss the relevant deadline, your chance for compensation is gone forever.
Doctors are trained to focus on your health. Your lawyer focuses on your legal rights. Plus, doctors sometimes have competing motivations like preserving their reputations or avoiding consequences with their employer.
Q: Did Michigan’s no-fault law change recently?
A: Yes, there have been changes to Michigan’s no-fault law over the years. Each time the state updates how the law works, it publishes the new information in a very lengthy PDF at Michigan.gov. Your attorney’s job is to stay current on the laws and provide insight that helps you make decisions using the right information that applies to your hit-and-run.
Q: What if I’m not sure I can afford a lawyer for my hit-and-run accident?
A: A hit-and-run accident doesn’t have to drain your bank account. At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we take no fees until we win your case. You don’t owe us a dime until we get a settlement for you.
For victims of hit-and-run accidents, this is an affordable way to get the legal help you deserve without worrying about the cost. Don’t avoid making a legal claim merely because you’re concerned about payment. We’re here to improve your financial situation and leave you in the best place possible after your case concludes.
Important Questions to Ask a Michigan Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer
A Michigan hit-and-run accident case is a criminal offense and can be hard to handle without the help of an experienced lawyer. But it’s hard to know whether a lawyer has what it takes to take on your case. Does your lawyer have experience with Michigan hit-and-runs, or are they just another name on the internet?
Ask potential lawyers questions that are relevant to your case. Any good lawyer should welcome the opportunity to explain how their firm works and what you can expect during the process of handling a hit-and-run case.
Ask a lawyer questions like:
- How long have you been a lawyer in Michigan?
- How many hit-and-run cases have you handled?
- How will you help me with a no-fault/PIP claim?
- Can you help me find evidence that backs up my hit-and-run case?
- How will you help me investigate what happened in my hit-and-run accident?
- Do you have a good reputation with Michigan judges and courts?
- What kinds of results have you gotten for clients in the past?
At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we have excellent credentials and a sterling reputation when it comes to car accident cases. We’ve been in the trenches, litigating Michigan car accident cases for decades and we understand how challenging it is to be in your situation, wondering what to do after a hit-and-run accident. We’ll be by your side, helping you plan for a better future.
Please contact the Lee Steinberg Law Firm today at 1-800-LEE-FREE or use our free online consultation form to get in touch with a qualified, experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer nearest to you in Michigan. You will receive an evaluation of your case entirely free of charge.