“Ask a Lawyer” – Hit and Run Accident
Recently, I had an auto accident. The other driver ran me off the road fled the scene. I was pretty shaken up and couldn’t get the tag number. I gave the police a description of the car but the other driver got away. My medical bills are huge. What can I do? Vince, Arley
Car accidents are extremely traumatic, causing serious injury and property damage. The law gives the victim the right to claim compensation for losses suffered in an accident caused by another person’s fault. However, in hit and run car accidents, the claims process can become complicated.
First – Never Leave the Scene of an Accident
The law forbids drivers involved in accidents to flee the scene, whether or not he/she was at fault. A driver must not leave the accident scene before providing relevant information to the police, or the other people involved in the wreck. If a driver flees the scene without doing this, he or she can be charged with a crime. If the accident causes the death of another person, the crime may be a felony and the at-fault driver could have to serve time in prison. Almost 11 percent of all motor vehicle accidents involve a hit and run. Every year, almost 2,600 people are killed by a hit and run driver.
The most common reasons behind hit and run accidents are:
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence.
- The at-fault driver does not possess a valid driver’s license, and fears trouble.
- The at-fault driver is uninsured.
- The at-fault driver knows he or she caused the accident because of distracted driving or speeding.
Will your auto insurance cover a “hit and run” accident?
Yes. A tougher question is whether your insurance covers an accident when another driver runs the victim off the road, but the vehicles never collided.
What is considered a “Phantom Vehicle” Accident?
A “phantom vehicle” is a vehicle involved in an accident, but the driver and the vehicle cannot be identified. This term applies when the “phantom vehicle” hits another car, but drives away from the accident before the vehicle can be identified. The term also refers to incidents where the “phantom vehicle” causes an accident but has no physical contact with the victim’s vehicle.
Alabama’s take on the “phantom vehicle” issue
Historically, Alabama recognized that unknown drivers of vehicles causing accidents with physical contact were defined as uninsured. However, with regard to the no-contact phantom vehicle, state and federal laws in Alabama were at odds. In 2002, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that a corroboration requirement to prove a no-contact phantom vehicle accident was an illegal insurance exclusion. A “corroboration requirement” would mean that a person had to produce evidence of a phantom vehicle other than his/her own testimony. Often times, that would be impossible.
The accident and injury lawyers at Nelson, Bryan & Cross represent clients in most areas including Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death Cases, Personal Injury Actions, Social Security Disability, Defective Products, Insurance Disputes and Bad Faith, Fire Loss cases, Trucking Accidents, Worker’s Compensation, Drug Recalls, Employment Law and Property Damage Claims.
If you have questions about any legal issue, call Nelson, Bryan & Cross (205-387-7777) for a free consultation.