We are going to take a look at hit and run accident cases in 2020.
Let’s start by looking at some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about hit and runs:
The amount of money that you may be able to get depends on several factors. In most hit and run cases, there are two factors that most commonly affect the payout amount. They are the seriousness of your injury, and the amount of available uninsured motorist insurance.
If you have a small injury, don’t expect a big settlement. Small injuries typically result in small payouts. Even in a hit and run case.
On the other hand, big injuries can result in large settlements.
In most hit and run cases that I have handled, proving liability has not been hard.
The amount of insurance is also a huge factor in determining whether you will get paid. For example, states like Florida don’t require you to have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Thus, in Florida, most cars do not have uninsured motorist insurance.
That said, some people carry high uninsured motorist coverage limits. Several years ago, I settled a hit and run accident case with GEICO for $50,000. But that was only because my client had $50,000 in uninsured motorist coverage.
In that case, my client broke his hip. He said that a vehicle cut him off. This is the type of hardware that a doctor put in his hip:
Two factors will typically determine the time that it takes to settle. The first factor is the time that it takes you to complete your medical treatment. In most cases, you won’t get a fair settlement until you have completed all of your medical treatment.
Because insurance companies are much more likely to pay you for treatment that you’ve already had as opposed to treatment that you may get in the future.
The second factor that will determine the time that it takes to settle is the uninsured motorist (UM) coverage policy limits. If your injuries are serious, and your UM limits are low, the case should settle faster. This is because your UM insurance company has more pressure to pay.
This assumes that you have UM bodily injury liability coverage. In states (like Florida), uninsured motorist coverage is not required.
Of course, the pedestrian should get medical treatment if he or she needs it. Call 911 from the accident scene so that the accident is reported.
Hopefully, the pedestrian owns a car with uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This coverage will pay for the pedestrian’s medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.
In addition, the pedestrian is also entitled to UM bodily injury coverage from a relative’s insurance policy. However, the pedestrian must have been living with the relative at the time of the accident for this uninsured motorist coverage to apply.
$50K Hit and Run Settlement (Without Lawsuit)
Several years ago, a driver lost control of his car in Miami, Florida. He crashed into the guardrail. An ambulance took him to the hospital.
An x-ray showed that he broke his hip. At the hospital, a doctor performed surgery on his hip. Specifically, they put hardware put inside his hip.
He claimed that he was cut off by another car that left the scene. My client received a ticket. After his accident, he began looking for a Miami car accident lawyer. I gave him a free consultation and he hired me on the spot.
His mother had purchased $10,000 worth of stacking uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage with GEICO. She had 5 vehicles under the policy. Thus, there was $50,000 in uninsured motorist insurance.
We settled for the $50,000 uninsured motorist insurance limits.
$10K Hit and Run Settlement (Without Lawsuit)
Several years ago, a driver crashed into a woman’s car in Hollywood, Broward County, Florida.
After the accident, the other driver left the accident scene. The lady’s car was heavily damaged. She got a free consultation from me and hired me.
A tow truck removed our client’s car from the accident scene. Our client was injured.
An ambulance transported her to Memorial Regional Hospital in Broward County.
A doctor diagnosed with her with a sprained wrist. Her wrist pain went away.
The doctor also diagnosed with her back, neck pain and headaches.
Our client had uninsured motorist (UM) insurance with American Vehicle Insurance Company. They paid us the $10,000 policy limits. This insurer has since changed its name to Federated National Insurance Company.
They are based in Sunrise, Broward County, Florida. They have a reputation as being below average in paying Florida personal injury claims.
We made a UM injury claim with her insurance company. All the letters that her UM carrier sent to us had their name listed as Superior Adjusting, Inc.
Our client had Personal Injury Protection (PIP) through her auto insurance policy. Her PIP paid $10,000 of her medical bills.
$7,500 Hit and Run Settlement (Without lawsuit)
Several years ago, my client was driving his car. A hit and run driver hit his car and fled the scene.
About 1 month later, he had an MRI of the cervical spine. It showed a C5-C6 paracentral disk protrusion, moderate in size, compressing upon the thecal sac.
He treated for four months from the date of the accident. At the end of his treatment, the diagnosis was a lumbar strain.
The careless driver was insured with Metlife.
I settled the his personal injury case with Metlife for $7,500.
Is an injury case more valuable if the at fault driver left the scene of the crash?
The answer may depend on the state where the hit and run occurred.
In a small percentage of cases, hit and run injury cases are worth more than car accident cases where the at fault driver doesn’t leave the scene.
However, it depends on the particular factors of the case.
In some situations, the injured person may be able to sue for punitive damages if the driver who caused the accident left the scene without stopping or rendering aid. If punitive damages are allowed, it often adds value to the case.
Punitive damages are in addition to medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. In other words, punitive damages are a completely different type of compensation that you can’t get in most injury cases.
Here, I’m going to focus on Florida hit and run cases. In order to get punitive damages, the injured person must show through clear and convincing evidence that the punitive deserving conduct caused the injured person’s injury or damage.
Basically, the injured person must have been damaged by the driver leaving the scene. The clear and convincing standard is a high standard.
As a comparison, to get money for pain and suffering, the injured person must meet the greater weight of the evidence standard. It is a mere tipping of the scale. That is a much easier standard to meet.
What’s an example of hit and run accident where punitive damages may be awarded?
Let’s say that the at fault driver leaves the crash scene without rendering aid or stopping. Then, the injured person is trapped in his car for an additional 15 minutes before paramedics arrive. Assume that there is no one else around the accident scene.
As a result, the injured person fears for his life or safety during these 15 minutes. As a result, the injured person gets mental health counseling for his emotional distress. Perhaps he or she now needs medication to deal with anxiety from being in a car on the road.
In this case, a judge may allow punitive damages.
That above situation is just one example of punitive damages in a hit and run case. There are countless other examples.
If the at fault driver won’t admit liability, then the jury hears about hit and run
In most cases, the jury will never get to hear that the at fault driver left the scene without stopping.
Is there an exception?
Yes. If the at fault driver denies liability, his flight from the scene is an inference of guilt. Lynch v. McGovern, 270 So.2d 770, 772 (Fla. 4th DCA 1972).
This would likely add value to the personal injury case.
Because the jury would likely give a larger pain and suffering award. Juries don’t like hit and run drivers.
All things equal, someone who is hit by a drunk driver has a better case than someone who is hit by a “hit and run” driver. This is because Florida courts consistently allow punitive damages against drunk drivers. And punitive damages increase case value.
Also, the severity of the injury usually affects settlement value much more than the “hit and run” factor.
Basically, a big injury without a hit and run driver is worth more than a smaller injury caused by a hit and run. At least in most cases.
Therefore, someone with a wrist fracture who was in a hit and run accident has a better case than someone with back pain who was in a hit and run crash. Again, this is a general rule. This is because a broken wrist is worth more than back pain in most cases.
In certain cases, insurance companies may offer more money for hit and run accidents. However, don’t expect State Farm, GEICO or Uber and others to offer more just because you were involved in a hit and run accident.
What is the Worst Thing About Hit and Run Cases?
The worst thing about hit and run cases is that the injured person often isn’t entitled to uninsured motorist insurance. In fact, way too often.
This is because many Florida car owners don’t carry uninsured motorist insurance.
If an Uber driver is struck by a hit and run driver, what happens?
All of the Uber drivers claims will likely be against Uber’s uninsured motorist insurance company. This is because most Uber driver’s don’t have UM coverage on their personal car insurance policy.
The Uber driver has the best case if he or she was en route to pickup passengers or during trips. Currently, the Uber driver is entitled to uninsured motorist coverage. However, this may change in the near future. This is because Uber’s (and Lyft’s) trend is to decrease its UM coverage.
If the Uber had passengers at the time of the accident, the most that Uber’s insurance company has to pay is $250,000 to all of the occupants of the Uber vehicle. However, the Uber driver and passengers still must prove the value of their claim.
In other words, their injuries must warrant payment. Bigger injuries typically warrant a greater payout. In other words, a broken hand is worth more than back pain that goes away in two days.
Also, if you’re a passenger in an Uber you’re entitled to uninsured motorist insurance. At least for now.
Hurt in a Hit and Run Accident in Florida? Injured in another type of Accident?
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