Hit and run collisions happen more frequently than many people realize. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that hit and run crashes made up 11.7% of all car accidents in recent years, causing 138,500 injuries and 2,049 fatalities.
Hit and run collisions often result in severe injuries, as well as significant emotional and financial distress.
All drivers are required to stop and remain at the scene of an accident.
If someone fails to do so, they are shirking their legal and social responsibility to the others involved.
An at-fault driver fleeing the scene can rob the victim of the fair compensation they’re entitled to receive.
This could leave them forced to pay out-of-pocket for injuries and damage to their vehicle, even if the crash was not their fault.
However, some options may be available to victims of hit and run crashes.
The Albuquerque hit and run accident attorneys at Parnall Law are prepared to help you seek the compensation you need after a hit and run accident.
We are ready to investigate your accident, work with law enforcement to locate the hit-and-run driver, and review your insurance policy to determine what uninsured motorist (UM) coverage may be available to you.
We can also fight for your insurer to pay you the fair amount according to your policy.
What Is a Hit and Run Car Accident?
A hit and run accident occurs when a driver hits your car and then leaves the accident scene. In New Mexico and throughout the rest of the country, drivers involved in collisions are legally required to:
- Stop their vehicle and, if possible, move the car to prevent blocking traffic;
- Call for an ambulance and provide “reasonable assistance” to anyone who is injured;
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver involved, and;
- Call the police if anyone is injured or if there is more than $500 worth of property damage.
When a person fails to take these steps after an accident, they are breaking the law because they failed to remain on the scene and render aid. According to the New Mexico code of law, section 66-7-201, drivers who leave an accident after causing severe injuries or death may be charged with a felony. Despite these consequences, many people still drive away after an accident because they:
- Believe they will not get caught;
- Do not have car insurance;
- Are intoxicated or engaging in other illegal activities;
- Have outstanding warrants;
- Are scared of the consequences.
Even if you can never identify the driver or car that hit you—as is often the case—you could still seek compensation for your injuries through your auto policy’s UM coverage after a hit and run accident.
Who Pays for Injuries in a Hit and Run?
After most car accidents, you will exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Once the investigation is complete and you begin negotiations, you will have to prove that the other driver was at fault to reach a settlement amount. If you can do this, the other driver’s insurance will pay you for your injuries and damages. When you do not have information about the other driver because they fled the scene, however, it is impossible to contact an unknown insurance company to demand reimbursement for your damages.
But you may still be able to recover your damages and costs, even though the wrongdoer fled. Car insurance companies throughout New Mexico are required to offer uninsured motorist policies. This policy protects drivers in an accident with someone who is not insured and applies to hit and run accidents.
After a hit and run accident, you can file a claim with your insurance through your UM coverage. Your insurance company will review the accident and provide compensation for your injuries and property damage.
If you do not have UM coverage, your insurance may still pay for the cost of your property damage injuries under a collision policy. You may have to pay the deductible stated in your policy to receive this kind of compensation.
Other Possible Sources of Recovery in a Hit-and-Run
In some instances, you may have additional recovery options beyond your uninsured motorist policy coverage. Was there a roadway defect that contributed to your accident? Was there a hidden stop sign or a malfunctioning traffic light? Fallen trees, potholes, or any other hazards contributing to the accident could result in liability against the city or state. The government has a legal obligation to maintain all public roadways. Who is liable will depend on who had the legal responsibility to fix the hazard.
If you have a claim against the city, state, or even federal government, there are additional deadlines you must adhere to when filing. You typically have a concise window to bring a claim against a government agency. When you retain an Albuquerque hit-and-run accident attorney, they will be able to tell you how the claims process works in this situation. Contacting an attorney right after the accident is crucial when you potentially have a claim against a government agency.
Another potential source of recovery is a vehicle manufacturer. Did something malfunction with your vehicle that contributed to the accident or resulted in more severe injuries? For example, imagine your seatbelt didn’t work correctly during the impact because of a defect, and you sustained more severe injuries than you should have. In this case, you might have a product liability claim against the vehicle manufacturer.
How to Pursue a Claim Against a Third Party
Third parties might try to deny liability and argue that the at-fault driver who fled the scene is solely responsible for your injuries and damages. Don’t let them try to forget their legal responsibility. While the other driver might have fled the scene, that doesn’t extinguish the legal responsibility of other potentially responsible parties. If there was a road hazard or a defect with your vehicle that either contributed to the accident or made your injuries worse, then you have a right to pursue a claim.
Claims against the government and big companies are almost always complicated. You need a hit-and-run accident attorney who has the experience and skills to take on cases like these. Not only are there strict deadlines for claims filing, but these cases require a lot of investigation and usually involve hiring one or more experts. For example, an accident reconstructionist might be necessary. This professional can recreate how the accident happened to confirm your version of the events or how your injuries occurred. You may also need one or more medical experts to corroborate that your injuries are more severe due to the defective condition.
Can I Get Compensation After a Hit and Run Accident?
After a serious accident, compensation is essential to protect your financial interests and allow appropriate ongoing medical care. You may need significant medical treatment, vehicle repairs, and time away from work due to your injury, and all of this comes with a cost.
If you have UM coverage or collision coverage, you may be eligible to receive compensation after a hit and run accident. An attorney can help you read your policy to see what your insurance company owes you.
After your crash, an insurance adjuster will review the severity of your accident and the type of injuries you sustained to determine the compensation they feel you are owed. Every accident has unique factors that can affect your claim’s value. Your type of injuries, how much time you lost from work, your out-of-pocket expenses, and your pain and suffering are a few variables that affect your claim value.
Contact a hit-and-run accident attorney in Albuquerque to be sure your settlement is fair.
The compensation you receive from your insurance policy may cover the cost of:
- Emergency medical care;
- Hospitalization and surgery;
- Ongoing medical needs resulting from the accident;
- Rehabilitation services;
- Lost wages or time from work;
- Inability to return to work;
- Temporary or permanent disability;
- Wrongful death damages;
- Vehicle repair or replacement;
- Alternative transportation.
After a serious hit and run accident, you deserve the maximum financial compensation possible so that you can live your life comfortably despite the other driver’s reckless behavior. Unfortunately, even “your” insurance company may try to offer you less money than you deserve to protect their bottom line.
Whenever you seek compensation from an insurance company—even your own—you need an attorney who can fight for the money you deserve. Your lawyer will help you calculate the total cost of your accident, from medical bills to non-economic damages like your pain and suffering. Our hit and run attorneys at Parnall Law are prepared to seek a fair, full settlement on your behalf.
Comparative Negligence in New Mexico
New Mexico follows the legal theory of pure comparative negligence.
That means your percentage of negligence will reduce your potential recovery.
This will apply even when you are presenting an uninsured motorist claim to your insurance company. For example, if you are 20% at fault, you could collect up to 80% of your damages.
If you are 80% at fault, you could collect up to 20% of your damages.
No matter whom you’re presenting a claim to, they will look to the place as much liability against you as possible to reduce their potential payout.
Your attorney will protect your rights and keep the insurance company from trying to place additional blame on you.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
If you have been injured in a hit and run accident, you probably feel confused and overwhelmed. Even in the midst of your confusion, you need to take action to protect yourself. You can gather important evidence to substantiate your injury claim. Our hit and run lawyers can use that evidence to seek the financial support you need to recover.
Don’t wait to take action after your crash. The more information you gather in the immediate aftermath of the accident, the more likely you are to receive the compensation you need.
The steps you take after an accident play a crucial role in your ability to seek compensation. After a hit and run accident, you should always remember to do the following:
Seek Medical Attention
The primary focus after an accident is always your health and the health of your passengers. You should seek medical treatment right away if you aren’t transported to the hospital from the scene.
It’s crucial to make an appointment as soon as possible.
You may have internal injuries that are not visible.
Ensure you keep documentation about the injuries you sustained, the treatment you received, and all medical bills.
Call the Police
Even if you do not need immediate medical attention after a hit and run accident, you should always file a report with the police. This report will ensure that you have official documentation of the accident. You can file a police report in Albuquerque over the phone by calling the police non-emergency number at 505-242-COPS.
Take Notes About the Incident
Write down everything you remember about the other vehicle’s make, model, color, and license plate. If you saw the driver, take notes about their physical description and gender. Any information you can provide to the police will help their attempt to find the suspect.
Call Your Insurance
Once you have received medical treatment, you need to report the hit-and-run accident to your insurance company.
When you speak with your agent or the claims department, you need to explain you are filing a hit-and-run claim. They may be able to tell you right then whether you have coverage that applies.
If not, they may set up the claim and assign it to an adjuster to do a coverage investigation.
Contact a Lawyer
After a hit and run accident, you need to make sure that you understand your rights and seek fair compensation.
A hit-and-run lawyer in Albuquerque will ensure that you take the appropriate steps to file an injury claim.
Like ours at Parnall Law, a competent attorney can negotiate with your insurance provider to seek a fair settlement.
Don’t wait to take action after your crash. The more information you gather in the immediate aftermath of the accident, the more likely you will receive the compensation you need.
How Long Will It Take to Settle My Hit-and-Run Case?
If you are a hit-and-run accident victim, you are likely wondering how long it will take to settle your claim.
However, there is no one definitive answer to how long these types of cases take to resolve. If you are presenting a UM claim to your insurance company, the timeline will likely be different than if you’re pursuing a product liability case against the vehicle manufacturer.
When your claim doesn’t resolve through negotiations, your attorney will need to file a lawsuit.
If you are presenting an uninsured motorist claim, the lawsuit would be against your own insurance company.
If you are pursuing a product liability claim, it would be against the vehicle manufacturers. When you meet with your hit-and-run accident attorney, they will be able to give you some idea of how long your specific case should take to resolve.
Will a Hit and Run Accident Affect My Insurance?
In most cases, a hit and run accident will not increase your insurance premiums. Insurance companies usually classify a hit and run accident as a not-at-fault collision. In other words, you did not cause the accident, so your insurance premium should not change.
When you file your insurance claim after a hit and run accident, you should always verify that the report reflects that you were not at fault. Your hit and run lawyer can help you if someone categorizes your crash differently.
Fear of an increased car insurance premium should never stop you from demanding the compensation you need. Suppose your insurance company threatens to increase your monthly premiums if you open a claim. In this case, they might be using a scare tactic to try to dissuade you from seeking compensation.
What Are the Insurance Requirements for Drivers in New Mexico?
All drivers in New Mexico are required to carry liability insurance that will provide compensation to injured parties.
No insurance is one reason why some drivers flee the scene of an accident.
The minimum coverage you’re required to have in New Mexico is $25,000 for injury or death to one person and $50,000 for all injuries in a single accident.
Although these are the required minimums, they typically aren’t enough to cover claims.
When the accident is severe, the other driver might have catastrophic injuries. $25,000 will not even cover their initial emergency room treatment.
According to Insurance Journal, New Mexico ranks as one of the top five states for uninsured motorists, with 20% of drivers or more uninsured.
That is one reason why keeping uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy is so important.
How Much Will an Albuquerque Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer Cost?
Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis.
That means your attorney only charges you a fee if they successfully recover compensation in your case.
Recovery can be through a negotiated settlement, mediation, arbitration, or a judge or jury award.
Your attorney will typically take a percentage of the settlement or award as payment for their fees and costs.
What this means is you never have to pay any upfront fees to hire a hit-and-run accident attorney.
There are no strings attached to meeting with an attorney to see how they can help your case.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer After a Hit and Run Accident
If you were hurt in a hit and run accident, you need fair compensation for your injuries.
The Albuquerque hit and run accident attorneys at Parnall Law are ready to fight for you. Our lawyers have the skills necessary to make a convincing injury claim on your behalf. We will not allow your insurance to take advantage of you during this difficult time.
The compassionate attorneys at Parnall Law understand that no hit and run accident is the same.
That is why we take the time to get to know you and your case. We’ll create an individualized legal approach that meets your needs.
When you work with Parnall Law, you can focus on recovering while trusting us to pursue the compensation you deserve. Start your personal injury claim right now by calling Parnall Law to schedule a free consultation.