Hit and run accidents can lead to serious injuries which may require immediate ambulance transport to a hospital emergency room from the accident scene. In spite of the fact that it is a crime in Maryland for a driver to leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident if the driver was involved in the crash, in many situations drivers fail to comply with the law. Part of the reason for this may be because the driver was uninsured, or they may have stolen the vehicle or may have taken a friend's car without permission, etc. Regardless, the main concern for the victim given the property damages, medical bills and lost wages is what can be done should this occur? Who holds the proverbial bag?
UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE (UMC): Normally, a UMC claim is filed by a victim when their vehicle is damaged by an uninsured vehicle. Effectively, if injured, leads to a personal injury claim against the victim's insurance policy as prescribed by applicable Maryland insurance laws. In the case of a hit and run accident, the law assumes, for the victim's claim, that the at-fault driver who fled the scene had no insurance due to the reality of not having any insurance policy to file a claim against the at fault/ hit and run driver. Therefore, the victim's insurance company steps in as the insurance company for the at-fault driver. One can presume that the victim's insurance company is not thrilled about the prospects of having to be responsible to pay out on the claim or "hold the bag".
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Notwithstanding that the victim can file a UMC claim against their insurance policy, they still need to otherwise make sure that all necessary documentation are in place or put in place to successfully assert a personal injury claim. For starters, the victim should report the accident to the police so they can obtain a police report because the insurance adjuster will most likely request a copy. If a police report does not exist, if the victim called 911, they can obtain documentation of the time stamped call which will show the date, time and call location and corroborate the victim's assertion of an accident event on the alleged date. If there were any passengers in the victim's vehicle, their contact information can be provided to the adjuster as witnesses in support of the victim's version of events. Further, in most cases, the adjuster could request the victim to provide a recorded statement view phone interview. The victim should seriously consider retaining an attorney who will guide them prior to their giving any statements to the adjuster. Lastly, the victim should ensure that they timely seek medical care to treat their injuries and be mindful of avoiding unreasonable treatment gaps. Any lost wages being asserted should be adequately documented and backed by their doctor's work excuse or disability slips. The idea is the victim must be mindful of the fact that 'their' insurance company can and most certainly will attempt to assert all possible defenses in an effort to reduce the value of the claim or deny the claim outright.
In conclusion, the victim is legally entitled to money damages under Maryland law for their uninsured motorist hit-and-run insurance claim provided they properly ensure that they take the necessary steps to protect their personal injury claim interest. However, given the potential pitfalls involved, victims are better situated when they consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before reaching out to their insurance adjuster. If you have any questions regarding this article, do not hesitate to contact us.