Car accidents lead to physical pain and economic loss, making them especially stressful when another driver causes them. However, drivers with ethical and moral deficiencies who leave the scene of the accident add extra layers of anger and frustration. Accident victims must cope with the physical pain of their injuries and absorb the cost of vehicle repairs and medical treatment costs.
Fortunately, you have some options for recovering damages after a hit-and-run accident in New Orleans. An experienced New Orleans car accident attorney can answer your questions during a free consultation. Until you have the opportunity to meet with a lawyer and discuss your legal options, this guide provides preliminary information on what you can do if you have been injured in a hit-and-run car accident in New Orleans.
Drivers who leave the scene of an accident face a fine and possible jail time depending on the circumstances and their driving history. When serious physical injuries occur, a hit-and-run conviction carries up to a $5,000 fine and 10 years in prison if drug use or alcohol use contributed to the accident. Hit-and-run drivers who cause severe bodily injury typically must serve a mandatory five years in prison, but they could serve as much as 20 years in prison if they have previous convictions.
If you are involved in a car accident in New Orleans, and the other driver leaves the scene of the accident, you must first prioritize safety. If possible, move your car out of traffic and call 911 to report the accident. Wait for law enforcement and emergency services to arrive. If you are physically able, take the following actions while waiting for the police to arrive:
Accident victims often assume they do not have any way to recoup their losses when a hit-and-run driver causes an accident. This is sometimes true. However, sometimes the police locate the hit-and-run driver based on the evidence they gathered at the scene and discussions with eyewitnesses. You should periodically check in with the police to ask if they have identified the driver who hit you. If you do not locate the hit-and-run driver, you must rely on your insurance to absorb some or all of your economic losses from the accident.
Uninsured motorist (UM) insurance is add-on coverage that pays benefits when drivers get in an accident with an uninsured motorist. Louisiana does not require drivers to carry UM coverage, but it does require insurance providers to offer UM coverage in insurance packages. Policyholders must explicitly deny UM coverage in writing, so you likely have UM coverage.
Unless explicitly excluded in the language of your insurance policy, UM insurance covers medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages for policyholders who have suffered injuries in a hit-and-run accident. If you immediately report the accident to your insurance carrier, you can likely receive benefits up to your policy limit to recover some or all of your losses.
If you are fortunate enough that the police locate the hit-and-run driver who caused your accident, you have some other options. First, you can file an insurance claim with the driver’s insurance carrier to receive compensation under their liability coverage. However, the lack of insurance is one common reason drivers leave the scene of an accident. It’s possible the driver who left the scene of the accident truly does not have insurance. In this situation, you are once again left to rely on your UM coverage.
If the driver is uninsured or your damages exceed his or her insurance policy limits, you can also bring a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. If a court rules in your favour, you could be awarded damages for current and future medical treatment costs, current and future lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other non-economic damages.
Keep in mind that hit-and-run drivers, especially those who do not have insurance, likely have little if any financial resources to pay an award. If they did, they would likely have insurance. It’s imperative to let an attorney help you in these situations to ensure you have the best chance to prevail in an insurance claim and/or lawsuit and collect any compensation you are awarded.
It’s common for hit-and-run accident victims to go it alone with their insurance company after a hit-and-run accident. They feel they can handle filling out an insurance claim and communicating with their insurance company and mistakenly assume their insurance provider is on their side. This tragic mistake sometimes causes accident victims to miss out on receiving the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
Insurance companies are worried about their bottom line, not their policyholders. It’s crucial that you treat an uninsured motorist insurance claim from a hit-and-run accident the same as you would treat a claim you filed with a driver’s insurance carrier. Your insurance company will investigate the hit-and-run accident and do what they can to deny or devalue your claim.
It’s in your best interest to contact an experienced New Orleans car accident attorney who can help you avoid the simple mistakes that could lead to your claim’s denial. The skilled legal team at Charbonnet Law Firm can evaluate your claim and guide you on a path that gives you the best chance of receiving the maximum compensation commensurate with your injuries. Contact us today online or at 504-294-5118 to discuss the details of your hit-and-run accident and learn how we can help.
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