hit and run accident

Do I Need a Lawyer After a Hit and Run Accident?

New Jersey law does not force you to work with a lawyer if you got injured in a hit-and-run accident, but doing so can be a smart decision. These situations can be complicated, potentially involving police investigations and multiple insurance policies. It is usually a good idea to have an attorney on your side when dealing with insurance companies, particularly on complex issues like a hit-and-run collision.

A New Jersey personal injury attorney can fight your battles for you and talk to you about what to expect in your case. Read on to get more information about the question of “Do I need a lawyer after a hit and run accident?”

What Happens if the Police Find the Hit and Run Driver?

Often, a hit-and-run driver gets caught eventually. Sometimes the driver simply panicked and drove away but felt remorse afterward and went to the police voluntarily. Others might have fled because they were afraid that they were over the legal limit for alcohol, so they hid for a day or two until the alcohol in their system dissipated. 

If the police find the person who left the scene of the accident illegally, and that driver gets charged with causing the collision, you can usually make a claim for your injuries and other losses against that individual. At that point, the at-fault driver’s automobile liability insurance policy would apply, just as it would if the driver had stayed at the scene.

Typically, a claim against the at-fault driver could include things like these:

  • Medical expenses you incurred to treat your injuries. This category can include the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, doctors, diagnostic procedures, surgery, physical therapy, and prescription drugs.
  • Lost wages to replace the income you did not get paid when you could not work because of your injuries.
  • Pain and suffering for the physical discomfort and emotional distress of the accident, your injuries, and medical treatment.
  • Other intangible losses like disfigurement, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and loss of enjoyment of life.

The money damages you can pursue will depend on the facts of your situation.

What if the Hit and Run Driver Gets Caught but Is Uninsured?

If the hit-and-run driver gets identified but does not have automobile liability insurance, you could seek a judgment in court and then go after his personal assets. People cannot necessarily get out of their legal obligations by not buying insurance. Your attorney can help you evaluate whether it will be worth your while to go after the at-fault driver. The bottom line will usually be whether the person has substantial assets.

Another possible option in the situation of an at-fault driver with no insurance is to examine your own car insurance. If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your car policy, it might pay some of your losses. 

Who Pays My Losses if the Hit and Run Driver Never Gets Caught?

If you get injured by a hit-and-run driver who successfully evades identification and capture, the insurance industry will treat that situation the same as an uninsured motorist. The logic behind this position is that there is no insured at-fault motorist to pay your claim. When this happens, you could make a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage, if your policy includes that coverage. 

A New Jersey personal injury attorney can guide you through the complicated process after a hit-and-run accident. Call our office today to set up a consultation.