What Happens in a Hit and Run in Massachusetts
Hit-and-run accidents are not uncommon in Massachusetts. If you are in a hit-and-run accident and are unable to locate or identify the driver and vehicle involved, then you must look to the uninsured motorist provision of your own auto liability policy. Also, even if you can identify and locate the vehicle and its owner, there is no guarantee that the driver and vehicle were insured or had adequate coverage.
Although all but one state requires motorists to possess auto liability coverage at the mandated minimum limits, you can expect up to 20% of all vehicles on the roadway to be uninsured. Further, many insured vehicles only have the minimum policy limits required, which is $20,000/$40,000/$5000 in Massachusetts. Should you incur serious or catastrophic injuries, you need to have adequate protection by purchasing more than the minimum policy required as well as underinsured motorist protection.
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is required in Massachusetts so it will always accompany your purchase of liability insurance. It will be in the same amount of your liability limits.
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), however, is an option that you must request. Our office recommends that you possess at least $100,000 in UIM coverage if not also for liability and UM coverage.
What to Do in a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you are in a hit-and-run accident, you must first get to a secure location before following these steps:
- Immediately call the police and report the accident
- Ask for medical assistance if you feel injured at all
- If able to do so, take photos of the accident scene and where your vehicle ended up, the damage to your vehicle, and of any traffic devices or anything else of relevance such as a damaged median or tree that your vehicle struck
- If anyone stopped and said they witnessed the accident or saw driver who fled, get their contact information and any details about the other driver and the vehicle
- Tell police what occurred and give them any details including a partial license plate number, make, model and color of the vehicle that fled, if the driver was male or female, young or old, and anything else you can recall
- Get information from the investigating officer about obtaining a copy of the traffic collision report that your insurer will require
- Call your auto liability insurer as soon as practicable to report the accident since you only have a limited time to report it
- If you suffered injuries, call an experienced car accident attorney from Burns and Jain
In some situations, an insured will question whether another vehicle was indeed involved and deny you coverage under your uninsured provision. In addition, your claim will be handled in the same fashion as if you were suing the negligent driver who caused your accident. You have the burden of proving negligence by the unidentified driver as well as your damages. By retaining an experienced car accident attorney, you can leave these issues to be resolved by a professional.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
There are a variety of reasons for why motorists flee the scene of an accident. Some drivers may be in a stolen vehicle, are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are carrying illegal substances, are driving on a suspended license, or may be undocumented. Others flee because they are uninsured or are carrying only minimal liability limits and fear losing personal assets in a lawsuit.
UIM coverage in adequate amounts can help a seriously injured motorist be sufficiently compensated under circumstances where a motorist has minimal coverage. You or your car accident attorney, however, must prove to the defendant’s insurer that your injuries and damages are such that it must offer its insured’s policy limits.
Once the limits are offered or “exhausted,” then you can seek additional compensation under the UIM provision of your liability policy. If you settled for the defendant’s policy of $20,000 and you have UIM coverage of $100,000, you can recover up to $80,000 in additional compensation. But if you recovered the limits of $50,000 and your UIM was also $50,000, you cannot recover any additional compensation.
Retain the Law Office of Burns and Jain
A hit-and-run accident that causes serious injuries can present complex issues of coverage and damages that only a seasoned car accident attorney can handle. If you were in a hit-and-run accident and are having issues with your insurer, call a car accident attorney from Burns and Jain at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your claim.