If you have been hurt in a hit-and-run car accident, you might be eligible for financial compensation. The Bruner Law Firm can help you pursue a legal case and recover from this traumatic experience. We have the resources and knowledge to investigate car crashes in the Panama City area and determine the person who caused them. We can obtain crucial evidence, track down witnesses, and negotiate for a full settlement with insurance companies. When you hire us, we’ll protect your rights and seek justice from the liable driver.
It’s illegal to leave an accident scene. Anyone involved in the collision must call law enforcement and wait for them to arrive. If there are injuries, they should also notify emergency medical services. At The Bruner Law Firm, our Panama City hit-and-run accident lawyers are familiar with state laws. Even if the police can’t find the negligent party that fled, we know about other legal options for recovering compensation.
Call us at (850) 769-9292 for a free consultation to discuss your hit-and-run accident and find out how we can help.
The Evidence You Can Find at Car Accident Scenes
If you sustain injuries in a hit-and-run crash, you might be able to collect crucial evidence before leaving the scene. First, you should call 911 to report the accident and wait for someone to arrive and perform an investigation into what occurred. They’ll write a traffic crash report, and you can request a copy of it online. It usually becomes available after 10 days and includes the following information:
- Date, time, and location of the crash
- Contact information for the drivers and passengers involved
- Ambulance services used and what hospitals the victims went to
- Type of vehicle damage and the location
- Description of how the accident happened and who caused it
- Diagram depicting the events leading up to the crash
- Auto insurance details for all parties
- Names and phone numbers of witnesses
You can also take pictures of the damage to your car, debris in the road, visible injuries, and other collision site evidence.
Look around the area for security cameras. If you see any, make a note of where they are so your Panama City hit-and-run accident lawyer can obtain a copy of the footage.
Successful insurance claims include strong evidence that proves the circumstances and how you got your injury.
Talk to Witnesses Before You Leave the Accident Scene
Insurance companies perform their own investigations into car accidents. They’ll review the evidence you provide when you file a claim and come up with their own conclusion about the cause. They might not agree with the investigating officer’s findings or question whether your injuries resulted from the crash or a pre-existing medical condition.
They always look for reasons to deny claims or provide a low settlement offer. The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be. Witnesses are one of the most crucial pieces of evidence you can find. If anyone was around to see your hit-and-run accident, talk to them. Write down their names and phone numbers so you can contact them later if necessary.
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
A gap in treatment is the most common reason insurance companies deny claims. If you wait too long after the car crash to seek initial treatment, the insurance company can use that to show your injury isn’t severe enough or doesn’t exist. They’ll likely deny your claim and prevent you from recovering financial compensation for your losses.
Once you leave the accident scene, go to a hospital or urgent care facility to evaluate your injuries. The doctor will determine a diagnosis and refer you for follow-up treatment, if necessary. It’s important that you attend other medical providers for continued care until you recover. The records they keep will include details about each appointment you attend, your recovery progress, and if you reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means your condition won’t improve with further medical intervention.
Most hit-and-run accident victims who reach MMI will need ongoing treatment to manage pain and other symptoms. Others might require surgery in the future to correct a physical impairment. Whatever the situation, a doctor placing their patient at maximum medical improvement means they will spend more money in the future due to this accident. Documentation like that can increase the value of anyone’s case.
How to Handle a Hit-and-run Accident
Unfortunately, many hit-and-run cases end up unsolved. If law enforcement can’t find the person responsible for your car crash, you can still pursue compensation for your injuries. Under Florida’s no-fault system, your auto insurance company can pay for medical bills and other expenses regardless of who’s to blame for the accident.
Personal injury protection (PIP) is a form of coverage that pays upfront for medical treatment. If you provide your doctors with your PIP information, they can send your medical bills directly to the auto insurance company. You’ll receive coverage up to the limit you chose on your policy. Most people have $10,000 in PIP coverage, which is the minimum legal requirement.
This type of insurance can also reimburse wages you’re unable to earn if your injury prevents you from working. Again, you’ll receive compensation up to the limit listed on your policy.
Besides filing a PIP claim, you can pursue a settlement from your UM insurance (uninsured motorist). This type of coverage compensates accident victims for various damages, which are losses associated with an accident or injury. UM is available when the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance or flees the crash scene.
When you file a UM claim, you could seek a settlement for the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Car repair or replacement costs
- Mental anguish
How to Hold the At-Fault Driver Responsible for the Accident
If law enforcement finds the person who caused your injuries, there are two options available for seeking compensation.
No-fault states require that you pursue a claim with your own insurance company for compensation of your damages. You can only go after the at-fault driver’s auto insurance if you meet the serious injury threshold. That means the injury you sustained resulted in at least one of the following:
- Significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring,
- Permanent loss of a vital bodily function;
- Permanent injury other than disfigurement or scarring; or
Liability insurance provides a settlement to injured victims for the damages they incurred. If you meet one of the requirements above, you can file a claim with the hit-and-run driver’s liability auto insurance. The damages you’re allowed to pursue are similar to those in a UM claim.
Another legal option is to file a civil lawsuit against the liable driver. If you want to sue someone for their actions, you must follow a statute of limitations, which is a strict deadline. In Florida, the statute of limitations for a car accident is four years. That means you have four years from the crash date to file your lawsuit in the civil court system.
There’s a legal theory of negligence you could use when you’re preparing your case. Negligence hinges on a party’s failure to act with reasonable care to prevent injury to another party. There are five elements you must establish existed at the time of the hit-and-run to prove negligence:
- Duty: The other driver owed you a duty of care to reasonably prevent you from harm;
- Breach of duty: They breached their duty, meaning they did not live up to their legal requirements;
- Cause in fact: If it wasn’t for the negligent driver’s actions or inaction, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt;
- Proximate cause: Your injury was the direct result of their breach; and
- Damages: You incurred damages from the accident.
Besides the damages also available in a UM and liability claim, you can seek punitive damages when filing a lawsuit. Punitive damages aren’t supposed to compensate for things like medical bills and mental anguish. Instead, it penalizes the at-fault party for their actions. To win this financial award, you must have evidence that the other party acted with intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
At The Bruner Law Firm, we care about our clients. When you hire us, we’ll treat you like a priority. Throughout your entire case, we’ll remain by your side to provide support and guidance during this challenging time. Car accidents are traumatic experiences. They’re even worse when the person who caused it decides to drive off without checking on the injured victims. The at-fault driver should be the one responsible for your damages. We’ll use all the resources at our disposal to track them down and hold them accountable for their actions.
We know you’re struggling to recover and move forward. We’ll fight hard to ensure the insurance company treats you fairly and provides the maximum settlement available. You can depend on our team to work diligently, so your case doesn’t drag out for months or years. We want to resolve your claim efficiently so you can get on with your life and put this overwhelming experience behind you.
If you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident, call The Bruner Law Firm at (850) 769-9292. We’ll schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case and advise you of your legal options.