Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney in New Jersey
There is often a lot of anger and confusion after a hit-and-run accident. Victims of these crashes may be mad at the driver who fled and also unsure of what to do next.
These are all reasons why victims of hit-and-run crashes should seek help from a reputable New Jersey hit-and-run accident attorney. A lawyer can review your situation and determine your best options for obtaining compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. An attorney will also be prepared to fight for your best interests as the insurance company and attorneys for the other driver will try to deny or lowball your claim.
The hit-and-run lawyers at Lynch Law Firm understand the complexities of these types of cases and what it takes to recover the compensation our clients deserve. Your consultation with our licensed attorneys is free and comes with no obligation. You will not be charged for our services unless you receive compensation.
What Should You Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
Victims of hit-and-run accidents may not realize that their actions in the moments and hours after the crash can affect their chances of obtaining all the compensation they deserve.
After a hit-and-run crash, consider taking the following steps to help document what happened and preserve your claim:
Watch the Fleeing Car
You need to quickly focus if you want to have a chance of catching the fleeing driver. This is because you will probably have just a few seconds to get a look at the other car and its driver before it is out of view. You will need to collect as much information as you can so the police will have the best chance possible of finding the car and its driver.
Watch the car and quickly jot down as many details as possible, such as the make, model, color and license plate number of the vehicle. You should also note which parts of the car were damaged from the crash and the direction the car was headed.
If you can see the driver, write down any identifying characteristics you see, such as:
- Hair color and style
- Type of clothing he or she was wearing
Do Not Chase the Car
Even though you are angry and want to catch the driver who fled the scene, leave the chase to the police who have experience with these types of situations.
The other driver could be dangerous – he or she may have fled because the police have an outstanding arrest warrant. The police are trained to deal with dangerous individuals.
It is also their job to find people who flee the scene of a car accident, because it is a violation of state law. Under New Jersey Revised Statutes 39:4-129(a), any driver knowingly involved in an accident that caused injury or death must remain at the scene until fulfilling the requirements under subsection (c). This section requires the driver to present his or her driver's license and vehicle registration to the victim and the police. The driver must also give his or her name and address to the victim and police.
Another reason not to chase the other driver is that it might not be safe to do so. If your vehicle was damaged in the crash, it might be unsafe to operate.
Collect Information at the Scene
Pull out your smartphone and start taking pictures to document the scene. This includes taking pictures of the following:
- Damage to your clothes, such as blood stains
- Damage to your vehicle
- Damage to the road or surrounding area
You should also keep an eye out for any witnesses, including bystanders or customers or employees of local businesses. Ask them what they saw and take notes. Make sure to get the names and contact information for all witnesses so you can contact them again in the future.
Look around for any cameras that may have captured the accident. Note where these cameras are for future reference. A New Jersey car accident lawyer may be able to obtain footage from these cameras, which could be crucial to obtaining compensation from your claim.
Call the Police
After watching the car flee the scene, call the police to report that you were in an accident and the other driver fled. Give the dispatcher all of the information you collected about the other driver. This will be relayed to officers who may be able to catch the driver.
Whether they catch the driver or not, police will come to the scene of the accident to complete an accident report. Provide them with all of the information you have collected and explain what happened.
Ask the officer how you can obtain a copy of the report, as it is a vital piece of evidence for your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. It serves as an official record of what happened and helps link your injuries to the crash.
Obtain Medical Treatment
You need to be evaluated by a trained medical professional to diagnose all of your injuries and begin treatment. It is important to be examined by a trained physician because he or she can discover injuries you may not have known about because they weren't immediately causing symptoms. For example, you might not notice symptoms of whiplash for hours or days after the crash.
The doctor will note all of your injuries and your treatment plan in your medical records. Your records will also note that your injuries were caused by the crash.
Our New Jersey hit-and-run accident attorneys understand the difficulties of collecting fair compensation after a hit-and-run crash. We are prepared to guide you through every step of the process, pursuing all compensation to help you get back on your feet.
Filing an Insurance Claim After a Hit-and-Run Accident
Car insurance claims in New Jersey are governed by a no-fault system, which means accident victims must first seek compensation from their own insurance policy, even if they were not at fault for the crash. This also applies to hit-and-run accidents, regardless of whether the police find the other driver or not.
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Explain that you were in a hit-and-run accident, the police have been contacted and are searching for the driver, and you are going to get medical treatment.
Stick to the basic facts and nothing else. Avoid discussing your opinions or attempting to gauge the severity of your injuries. Insurance companies will do whatever they can to deny or devalue a claim and giving incorrect information could hurt your chances of recovering compensation.
Insurance Coverage for Hit-and-Run Accidents
There are various coverages that could provide compensation for a hit-and-run accident, depending on whether or not the police find the driver who fled the accident scene.
If Police Find the Driver
If the other driver is found and he or she is insured, our New Jersey hit-and-run accident lawyers can pursue compensation from your collision and personal injury protection (PIP) coverages, up to the limits of your policy. Collision coverage provides compensation for damage to your vehicle while personal injury protection compensates you for:
- Medical expenses for treatment of your injuries, including medical equipment
- Lost wages if your injuries cause you to miss work
- Other expenses, such as the cost of hiring someone to do chores around the house that you cannot do because of your injuries
Most New Jersey drivers choose to purchase the standard auto insurance policy, which requires you to have at least $15,000 per person per accident in PIP coverage. Drivers can purchase up to a maximum of $250,000.
If Police Cannot Find the Driver
Unfortunately, there are many times where police are unable to locate the driver who left the scene of an accident.
When this happens, you can still pursue compensation for medical expenses through your PIP coverage, as this is available regardless of who caused the accident. However, you may also be able to pursue compensation from your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This provides compensation for property damage and medical expenses from the crash, up to the limits of your policy.
You can also obtain compensation from this coverage if police find the driver but the individual either has no insurance or lacks enough coverage to pay for your damages. This often happens in hit-and-run cases – the reason many people flee accidents is because they have no insurance.
Our hit-and-run accident lawyers in New Jersey know how to determine what types of insurance coverage are available to you after a hit-and-run accident.
Schedule a free legal consultation with us today to discuss your options.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Hit-and-Run Crash
While most car accident cases are resolved through car insurance claims, some victims may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover certain forms of compensation. In a hit-and-run accident, this option only exists if police find the driver who left the scene of the crash.
If you chose to purchase the standard car insurance policy, you were required to make a choice about having a limited right to sue or an unlimited right to sue. Both options have different rules about when you can file a lawsuit and the forms of compensation you can pursue.
Unlimited Right to Sue
If you selected an unlimited right to sue, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to obtain compensation for pain and suffering for any injury, no matter how minor or severe. You will still have to pursue other forms of compensation through a car insurance claim.
When you select this option, it applies to your spouse, children and other relatives who are living with you and are not covered by another car insurance policy.
Limited Right to Sue
If you chose the limited right to sue option, you can only sue for pain and suffering if you sustain one of the following permanent injuries:
- Lost body part
- Significant scarring
- Significant disfigurement
- Displaced fracture
- Lost fetus
- Permanent injury that causes a body part or organ not to function normally
There is some leeway with the definition of a permanent injury, which means it is up to interpretation by a court. This means you could still have a right to sue for many types of severe injuries.
A New Jersey hit-and-run accident attorney from the Lynch Law Firm can determine if you have the right to sue for your injuries. Our goal is to help you obtain all forms of compensation you are entitled, through the insurance claims process or filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact our experienced attorneys right now by calling (800) 518-0508 .
Contact a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer in New Jersey
You have a limited amount of time to pursue compensation after a hit-and-run accident. That is why you should contact our attorneys as quickly as possible for a free legal consultation.
We are prepared to pursue all forms of compensation you are owed, including compensation for medical costs, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Our hit-and-run accident attorneys in New Jersey have many years of experience and know how to build a strong case in defense of your rights. We understand how compensation can help accident victims begin to move forward after the crash.
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Lynch Law Firm
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604
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