When a Pennsylvania car accident results in death or personal injury, the driver who caused the crash has a legal obligation under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3742 to stop and stay at the crash site until he or she has (1) given the injured party their contact and insurance information, (2) called for medical help, and (3) notified the police. Unfortunately, some drivers choose to ignore this law and speed away from the accident scene, hoping to dodge legal and financial responsibility for their actions. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident without remaining to help and share information, it is called hit and run. If you or one of your family members became a victim of a hit and run driver in Philadelphia, an experienced hit and run accident attorney may be able to help you get compensated for your injuries, medical bills, and other losses.
What to Do After You Are Injured by a Hit and Run Driver in Pennsylvania
Most people do the right thing after a car accident has occurred, but some individuals shirk their responsibilities without any thought for the victim they have left lying injured in the road. Suffering through a hit and run accident is absolutely devastating, on both a physical and emotional level, but you don’t have to cope with the aftermath by yourself. Even if you don’t initially know who hit you, don’t give up hope: there are steps you can take toward getting compensated with help from a knowledgeable and persistent Philadelphia car crash lawyer.
Of course, the top priority after a vehicular accident is always getting medical attention. Even if you don’t think you were seriously injured, it’s still important to see a doctor in order to rule out the possibility that you sustained any slow-developing or internal injuries, such as internal bleeding, whiplash (a common soft tissue injury of the neck), or a concussion or other form of traumatic brain injury.
The impact from a car is very powerful, even at low speeds, so it is unlikely that you will be able to clearly photograph the vehicle’s license plate as it drives away, especially if your phone is damaged or the accident happens at night. However, it’s very important to try to remember as much detail as possible about the car that hit you. Any piece of information you can recall, no matter how minor or trivial, can help the PPD track down your hit and run driver.
The most valuable piece of information is the vehicle’s license plate. Even if you only got a glimpse of the first few numbers or letters, that will help the police narrow down the field of potential suspects. Any other unusual features or damage to the vehicle that you can remember can also help the police. For example, did the car have a spoiler, dent, scratch, window sticker, pinstripe, convertible top, broken taillight, bumper stickers, tinted windows, duct tape, or any other identifying features?
Jot down everything you remember as soon as you are safely able to do so, including the time and location of the accident. Memory can rapidly fade or warp, and you might misremember key details if you don’t commit them to paper right away.
In addition, you should contact a personal injury attorney who can search for other evidence. It may be possible to locate witnesses who saw the person who hit you, or to obtain video footage from nearby business’ security cameras, which might have captured an image of the driver.
Get Compensated for a Hit and Run Accident by Making a UM/UIM Insurance Claim
Even if the police are ultimately unable to identify the driver who hit you, there’s still another chance for you to get compensated: filing a UM/UIM insurance claim.
UM stands for “Uninsured Motorist,” and UIM stands for “Underinsured Motorist.” As the name suggests, UM insurance pitches in if you ever get hurt in a car accident that is caused by a driver who does not carry auto insurance – which is, unfortunately, a common violation of state laws requiring Pennsylvania drivers to carry certain amounts of liability insurance. UIM insurance serves a similar purpose, but is meant for accidents caused by drivers who do not carry enough insurance to cover the costs of a crash.
Unlike liability insurance, UM/UIM coverage is not mandatory in the state of Pennsylvania, though 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1731 does require insurance carriers to at least offer it. In fact, you must opt out of UM/UIM insurance in writing if you do not wish to purchase this form of coverage.
While it will admittedly cost you a little extra, it is arguably worth purchasing UM/UIM coverage due to the large number of motorists who illegally drive without insurance: 6.5% of the drivers in Pennsylvania as of 2012, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That means about one out of every 20 drivers in this state is not covered. If you ever become the victim of a hit and run driver – or simply a driver with no car insurance – your UM/UIM coverage will be there to help provide a financial safety net. Again, this type of coverage is optional, so if you don’t have it already, you should strongly consider adding UM/UIM coverage to your policy. However, if you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, you may be able to get compensated through the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan.
Review Your Philadelphia Car Accident Claim in a Free Legal Consultation
Recovering from a hit and run accident isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. Turn to the Wieand Law Firm, LLC for aggressive, dedicated legal support in Philadelphia and locations throughout Pennsylvania. To talk about your personal injury claim in a free and private legal consultation, call (800) 481-5206 today.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*