Getting a Recovery for Injuries from a Hit and Run Automobile Accident


   No one anticipates being a victim of a hit and run accident.  This article discusses a crucial step after the accident to insure a recovery, i.e., reporting the incident to the police within 24 hours.

If you have been injured in a hit and run accident, please call me at 800-851-1434.

After the accident it is crucial that you do the following:

  1. have the police report to the scene to take a report; or
  2. have the police come to the hospital to take the report; or
  3. go to the police precinct to file a report within 24 hours of the accident.

You must report the incident to the police within 24 hours of the incident.  A failure to report will prevent recovery.  

If you have an automobile insurance policy in your household, then you would file a claim for your bodily injuries under your insurance policy’s Uninsured Motorist coverage.  The UM coverage requires a police accident report within 24 hours.  If you have fulfilled this requirement, then you can pursue a claim against your own insurance company in either a lawsuit or an arbitration.  But, a failure to report will result in denial.

If you do not have policy in your household, then your recovery would be against Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation or MVAIC.  Again, the 24 hour report to the police is essential.

There are exceptions to the rule of reporting the incident to the police.  A report to the District’s Attorney’s Office may suffice.  However, it can be difficult to prove an exception.  It is preferable to report the incident to the police.

Over the years various potential clients have asked us to take their hit and run accidents where there was no police report in 24 hours.  Unfortunately, the clients had no case.

You should not rely on a witness  identification of the vehicle.  Often, the witness will off by a letter or number  in identifying the license plate.  In this situation, the client may have no source of recovery if it is proven that the vehicle was not correctly identified.  The safest route is to report the accident either at the scene or at the precinct. 

We had a case where the client neglected to report the accident.  Instead, he relied upon an unknown witness writing down the purported license plate on a scrap of paper.  In that case the alleged vehicle owner was able to prove that he was not at the scene.  The court ruled that this purported vehicle was not at the scene of the accident and was not involved in the accident.  As a result, the client had no recovery.  He could not proceed against his own policy’s UM coverage. 

In another case, the client’s foot was run over by a limo.  The driver stopped briefly, but he took off.  The client had a fractured foot.  The client wrote down the license plate.  She did not call the police to the scene.  Instead, she got into a cab and went to New York  hospital.  Fortunately, the client correctly identified the vehicle, and the owner admitted that there was an accident.  However, if the owner denied involvement and offered testimony that he was in Buffalo rather than at Madison Avenue and 50th Street, the client’s recovery might have been defeated because she failed to report the incident to the police.

If a family member or friend is seriously injured and requires immediate medical treatment, make sure that you report the incident to the police within the 24 hours.  

If you have been involved in a hit and run accident or any other type of automobile accident, please call me at 800-581-1434.

Mark E. Seitelman, 12/30/08, www.seitelman.com.

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