No car accident is ever easy to deal with, but hit and run accidents, it can be especially traumatizing and challenging. Not only might you feel angry that someone would hit you and then drive away, but you also might be left feeling like there is nothing you can do about it. At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, our Michigan hit and run lawyers understand how frustrating these situations can be. Our lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case.
As hopeless as a hit-and-run accident may seem, you can file a claim for your Michigan hit and run case and recover compensation from an auto insurance company for the damages you suffered. In these cases, your best chance of winning your case and recovering the compensation you need is to work with a hit and run lawyer.
To prove what happened and recover compensation, you will need to provide evidence, and to obtain that evidence, you will need to work with a lawyer.
What is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run is defined as an incident where the at-fault driver who causes an accident flees the scene and the vehicle cannot be identified. There are many reasons why a person might do this, such as:
- The driver was scared of the consequences
- The driver was driving without a license
- The driver was driving someone else’s car without their permission
- The driver was driving a stolen car
- The driver did not want to deal with the police
- The driver has a record and is worried they would get arrested
- The driver is scared of losing their license
- The driver was driving for work and was scared they would lose their job
- The driver was distracted
- The driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Michigan requires all drivers to stop and stay at the scene if they have been involved in an accident until law enforcement has arrived. Therefore, a Michigan hit and run is considered a crime and can carry steep consequences if the driver is found.
If the hit-and-run only involved damage to another person’s vehicle, the punishment is up to 90 days in jail and up to a $100 fine. If the hit and run resulted in injury to another person, the punishment is up to one year in prison, up to a $1,000 fine, and suspension of their driver’s license.
If the hit and run involved a very serious injury or a death, the at-fault driver who fled the scene can face up to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If someone else who was involved in the accident fled the scene, even if they weren’t at fault, they could face up to five years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
The person injured by a hit-and-run accident still most prove their case. This is called the burden of proof. To successfully win a hit and run case, you must prove:
- An accident occurred
- The defendant (the person who fled) was at fault for the accident
- The accident resulted in harm or injuries to another person
So, if you were the person injured, even if it seems obvious to you that you were in an accident and severely injured, you still carry the burden of providing sufficient evidence to prove what happened. And understandably, this can be difficult when the at-fault driver has fled the scene.
In these cases, you will need to work with a hit and run lawyer who can help investigate the case to determine what happened, who the at-fault driver was, and to obtain any other proof needed for a hit and run.
While your lawyer can help you obtain evidence, it’s important to note that immediately following the accident, you should try to collect as much evidence as you can while still at the scene.
For example, if possible, you should try grabbing a photo or video of the other driver and their car before they get away and talk to any witnesses to see if they saw who hit you and if they got any photos or videos of what happened.
Specifically, information that can help can include the make, model, and color of the car, the license plate number, the direction that the driver took off in, and a description of the driver.
Evidence that you and your attorney can work together to try to collect to help support your case can include:
- Photos and videos of the scene and the driver/car that fled the scene
- Video surveillance footage from nearby businesses that might have captured what happened
- Witness statements
- Circumstantial evidence like tire marks on the street that could match the defendant’s car
- Parts of the defendant’s car that might have broken off and been left at the scene
- Accident reconstruction reports that can show a diagram of what likely happened
- Police reports
Because the at-fault driver cannot be identified, it can be confusing as to who pays for the injuries from a hit-and-run accident in Michigan. The answer to this question can be divided into two parts.
First-Party PIP Claim:
A hit-and-run case is treated the same as a normal car accident for purposes of obtaining first-party PIP benefits. You own auto insurance will medical bills, lost wages and household chores. This occurs even if you own vehicle was not involved in the crash. If you don’t have auto insurance, then the auto insurance of a resident relative must step up and pay the claim.
If there is no auto insurance in the household, then an injured person can file a claim through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP). After completing and submitting an Application for Benefits, the MACP will then assign an insurance company – like Nationwide or Allstate – to pay the claim.
Unlike a claim for pain suffering, physical contact with the hir-and-run vehicle is not required.
Pain and Suffering Claim:
Obviously you can’t sue a person who disappears without a trace from a car accident scene. But the law does provide a remedy.
In cases of a hit-and-run, a car owner can turn to their own car insurance policy for the payment of pain and suffering, emotional distress, scars and even wrongful death. However, the injured person, or the vehicle they occupied at the time of the crash must have uninsured-motorist coverage, also known as UM coverage.
UM coverage is not mandatory in Michigan. However, it is usually quite inexpensive and our hit-and-run lawyers strongly suggest you purchase this coverage. After all, as many as 25% of drivers in Michigan don’t have any car insurance.
If you are covered under a UM motorist policy, that insurance company steps into the shoes of the hit-and-run driver. Finding this insurance can be difficult and a lot of people don’t even realize they have it. Contact and experienced Michigan hit-and-run lawyer to find out your rights.
What Are Some Requirements to Make a Hit-and-Run Claim
Insurance companies hate hit-and-run accidents because they fear the accident may be fraud or a set up. As a result, most insurance policies have the following requirements to make a claim for uninsured motorist (UM) benefits:
- Physical contact must be made with the striking hit-and-run vehicle. In other words, there must be physical contact between your vehicle and the hit-and-run vehicle, or some part attached to the vehicle to be eligible for a UM claim.
- Physical contact is not required to make a claim for PIP benefits.
- A policy report must be made within 24 hours of the crash. If a report cannot be made for some reason, the claimant must make a reasonable effort to make a policy report.
- Proof that the hit-and-run vehicle was involved in the crash. Car damage and a police report is great evidence.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm: Michigan Car Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one have been involved in a hit and run accident, contact our team of Michigan hit and run lawyers as soon as possible. Time can make all the difference in these cases, and the sooner we get working on your case, the easier it can be to investigate and recover the necessary evidence to prove what happened.
Call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) to speak with an experienced hit and run lawyer. You’ll pay nothing until we settle your hit and run case.