Whether you are in a motor vehicle, on a bicycle, or just out for a walk, you never anticipate that something bad may happen. However, as soon as you step out or drive out onto the road, there is always the risk of an accident. After a car crash or an accident involving a bicyclist or jogger, the standard steps you would normally take would be to call the police, make sure the injured party is alright, and then file a claim with your insurance company once you have exchanged insurance information. But what happens when the other person involved in the accident takes off running?
The sad and unfortunate reality is that hit-and-runs occur on the roadways every single minute because people are afraid of getting in trouble and potentially incurring legal charges. By driving away from the scene of an accident, these people are not only committing a crime, but they are putting the injured party at further risk, especially if there is no one else around to call for an ambulance and get the victim the medical attention they require.
The other issue that victims of hit-and-runs often have to face after their accident is figuring out who is responsible for paying their auto repair and medical bills.
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Who Covers My Losses After a Hit-and-run Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident, chances are your only source for recovering losses is your own car insurance policy. In New York, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage must be included in motor vehicle insurance policies. In fact, every vehicle registered in New York must carry minimum personal injury liability coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Unfortunately, not everyone behind the wheel has auto insurance. In fact, the Insurance Research Council claims nearly one in six drivers throughout the United States is uninsured. In New York, it’s estimated that one in 20 drivers is uninsured. With 11.4 million motorists on the roads in New York, that translates into 570,000 drivers driving without insurance.
Equally concerning is the effect of the economy on uninsured motorist rates. The Insurance Research Council has noticed a correlation between the unemployment rate and an increase in uninsured motorists. According to the Insurance Research Council, a one-percentage-point increase in unemployment results in a three-quarters-of-a-percentage-point increase in the rate of uninsured drivers.
Is Purchasing Extra Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage Worth It?
While the minimum amount of personal liability coverage is contained in all auto insurance policies, purchasing more coverage makes a great deal of sense. Each insurance company offers different rates based on your driving record, credit rating, and other factors. In general, $100,000 of coverage can cost as little as $52 a year, roughly $1 a week. Even if investigators eventually catch up to the driver who hit you, he or she may not have enough coverage to pay for all of your losses. For these and other reasons, purchasing extra uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage makes a great deal of sense so that if you ever find yourself in a situation like this, you are protected.
Recent Hit-and-Run Accidents in the News
On a national level, rates of car accidents, in general, have also climbed drastically within the last few years, begging the question of why they are becoming more and more frequent. Some experts speculate that this influx of car crashes has a correlation to the increased number of vehicles on the road, which could be due to lower gas prices and other economic factors.
In terms of hit-and-run crashes specifically, there is also speculation about why this country is seeing more of them. With smartphones and other devices posing as serious distractions for drivers, as well as increases in drinking and driving-related arrests, most drivers involved in fatal hit-and-runs are clearly not paying attention. Additionally, statistics have shown that the majority of drivers in a hit-and-run are young adult males who have previously been in legal trouble and are generally under the influence of alcohol, which is why they feel the need to flee the scene immediately.
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Having Problems with Your Insurer? Contact Rosenberg & Gluck
Of course, just because you have uninsured driver coverage does not mean your insurer will not give you the runaround. In fact, under these circumstances, your own insurance company becomes your adversary, because we all know that insurance companies do everything they can to avoid paying for losses. Your insurance company may take its time investigating your accident to try and shift more blame onto you to reduce the amount it has to pay you. It will contest both the cause and severity of your injuries. Though it’s unfair and wrong, it is important for victims to note that the insurance company will do whatever it can to avoid paying you or to pay you as little as possible, so you should prepare yourself for that possibility. As personal injury attorneys who have decades of experience in dealing with difficult insurance companies, we negotiate with, arbitrate against, and sue insurance companies on a regular basis to make sure our clients receive the money to which they are entitled.
At the Long Island, New York personal injury law office of Rosenberg & Gluck, our car accident lawyers have years of experience dealing with insurance companies in uninsured/underinsured motorist claims. Our car accident attorneys understand how to work with investigators, police reports, and eyewitness statements when demanding fair compensation for our clients because we know that you are not to blame for someone else’s bad decisions.
To schedule a free consultation and learn more about our practice and how we can help you, email or call Long Island personal injury lawyers at (631) 250-4072.