A hit-and-run accident can have catastrophic consequences. Often, drivers run from the scene of an accident because they do not have adequate insurance or fear the consequences of their actions, like losing their license or a significant increase in insurance rates. Unfortunately, after a hit-and-run, you may not have the means to go after the liable driver and pursue compensation for your injuries and property damage accompanying the accident.
What can you do to help get justice?
Make sure that you report the accident immediately.
Always report a hit-and-run accident to the Chicago police department, whether you suffered injuries due to a hit-and-run as a pedestrian or you found damage to your vehicle in a parking lot or the street. The police can help locate any possible evidence about the accident. In addition, the police may already have more information about who may have caused your accident.
If the police can find the party that caused your accident, you may have the right and ability to pursue compensation from the liable party or that party's insurance company. However, around 11.8 percent of Illinois drivers do not carry auto insurance. If an uninsured driver injures you in a hit-and-run, you may have to pursue compensation from that driver directly or find another way to seek compensation for your injuries.
Document any medical care or other costs related to your accident.
Any time you have an auto accident, including a hit and run, you may need immediate medical attention. Emergency medical care can help with any obvious injuries and provide a full diagnosis of injuries you may not have noticed immediately after the accident. From those early days of treatment, document your medical costs.
Keep track of all paperwork related to your medical bills and medical care so that you can easily present it as part of a compelling claim if needed.
- Any co-pay or deductible amounts you must pay at the time of treatment.
- MedPay insurance used to cover any of your treatment costs. Illinois does not require its drivers to carry medical insurance but offers supplemental MedPay coverage to help cover the immediate cost of medical treatment after an accident. If you do have MedPay coverage, your medical bills may need to exceed the amount of that coverage before you can pursue compensation through an additional insurance claim or lawsuit.
- Medical bills. Often, you will have more than one medical bill for the same procedure, so you should ensure that you keep track of all the bills related to the accident as they come in.
- Time missed at work. You may be dealing with a long period out of work following a hit-and-run accident. Serious injuries can make it difficult for you to complete regular job tasks and may result in considerable income losses.
- Any other expenses related to your accident. Did you have to purchase durable medical equipment or renovate your home to make it more accessible with your new limitations? You should document all of those expenses.
Keep track of receipts, bills, and evidence to help establish the extent of your losses. The higher those losses, the more compensation you can demand as part of your injury claim.
Get in touch with an attorney.
You may wonder, “If I suffered injuries in a hit and run in Chicago, do I really have to work with an attorney? Can I pursue compensation for my injuries myself?” You may have several options to pursue compensation for your injuries, even if the liable driver fled the scene. By working with a lawyer, you can better understand your options for seeking compensation for costs and damages.
An attorney can help investigate the cause of the accident.
In some cases, an attorney can help you investigate the cause of the accident. While an attorney might not have access to the same evidence the police might use to evaluate the accident scene, the attorney may have access to video footage or other tools to help identify the party that caused your accident.
Furthermore, in some cases, you might know who caused the accident. If so, your attorney can help collect evidence that implicates the individual or entity and hold them liable.
An attorney can help identify third parties who caused or contributed to your accident.
In some cases, an attorney can help identify someone other than the driver that may have contributed to the accident. If the driver that fled the scene drove a company vehicle, for example, the lawyer might help you identify that company and hold it liable for the incident. The owner of a dangerous parking lot might share liability for a pedestrian accident, especially if the parking lot design made it difficult or impossible for the liable driver to have seen you at the time of your accident.
Identifying a third party that shares liability for the accident can make it easier for you to get compensation for your injuries, even if you cannot identify the driver that hit you.
An attorney can help you evaluate your insurance policy and what coverage you might have.
Many Illinois insurance providers recommend carrying uninsured motorist protection alongside your liability coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage adds relatively little to the overall cost of your insurance but provides considerable protection in the event of a hit and run or an accident with an uninsured driver. Since you have approximately a 1 in 10 chance of ending up in an accident with an uninsured driver in Illinois, having that protection can make your life much easier.
Your insurance policy would provide the same general level of protection that another driver would get if they suffered injuries in an accident that you caused. Depending on your policy terms and coverage, you may have the right to pursue compensation for damage to your vehicle, wage losses, medical bills, and pain and suffering from your insurance company.
However, that does not mean that you should go to your insurance company on your own as you pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. While your insurance company might offer you a better settlement than another driver's insurer, that does not mean that your insurance company will necessarily offer you a fair settlement. In general, insurance companies want to limit the compensation they pay out to an accident victim as much as possible. As a result, you may receive a low settlement offer that includes a relatively small percentage of the damages you sustained in your accident.
On the other hand, a lawyer can go over the insurance policy and identify how much compensation you should recover for the accident and your injuries. The lawyer can give you a better idea of what to expect as you pursue compensation and keep the insurance company fair.
Let your lawyer deal with your insurance company after a Chicago hit-and-run.
If you only sustained property damage in your Chicago hit-and-run, your claim may look relatively straightforward. Your insurance company will request that you take your vehicle to a certified repair shop, often one they recommend. The shop will look over the damage to your vehicle and offer an estimate for repairs. In most cases, the insurance company will either pay for the cost of repairs or choose to total the vehicle if the cost of repairs will total more than around 3/4 of the vehicle's value.
On the other hand, an injury claim can prove considerably more complicated. You cannot simply arrange for a one-and-done visit to your doctor to take care of all your medical needs. Instead, you may have ongoing treatments over a long period. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need months or more before your doctors can provide an accurate prognosis. This extended period can make it difficult to figure out exactly what your recovery will look like and how much compensation you need to include in your claim.
You may also have other variable losses that depend on you and your lifestyle. How much income you lose, for example, depends on what job you work, your personal pain tolerance, and even whether your employer will allow you to work before you make a full recovery. Most injury claims will also include compensation for pain and suffering, which varies based on the impact of your injuries on your quality of life, the pain you suffered, and how your relationships with friends and loved ones change as a direct result of your accident.
By letting your lawyer deal with the insurance company for you, you can more effectively deal with many of the challenges the insurance company might throw your way.
Avoid the pressure to accept a low settlement offer.
When you talk to your insurance agent, you may assume they will make you a reasonable settlement offer. You may assume that your insurance agent will ultimately have your best interests at heart. That means if you get a settlement offer, it should include reasonable compensation based on the terms of your insurance policy, right?
Unfortunately, that settlement offer might not include the compensation you hope to see. In many cases, you may end up pressured to accept a settlement offer that does not reasonably reflect the damages you sustained. A lawyer can help you avoid the pressure to accept that offer and negotiate to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Streamline the claim process.
Sometimes, dealing with the insurance company can become a real headache, even when you need to pursue compensation through your insurance company for the damages related to a hit-and-run. The insurance company may try to delay payment, insisting that the company must wait on the investigation into the hit-and-run to conclude or that other challenges prevent them from issuing a reasonable settlement within a fair timeframe. Working with a lawyer, however, can help streamline that claim process and hold the insurer accountable.
Establish evidence of a hit and run.
Sometimes, your insurance company may try to get around paying for the accident by trying to show that you, not the other party, caused the accident. If you do not have full-coverage insurance, that would mean that your insurance company does not have to pay out for the damages you sustained. Work with your lawyer to better understand how you can establish that your injuries occurred in the hit-and-run and avoid the insurer's tactics.
Get Help With Your Chicago Hit and Run Accident Claim Today
If you suffered injuries in a Chicago hit-and-run accident, working with an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer can help you navigate the claim process more effectively. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights and how you can pursue compensation for your losses.