We have insurance for a reason. If we are ever in a car accident, insurance is there to help cover the costs. Perhaps a driver was under the influence and scraped your car, or a car behind you lost traction on an icy patch of road and rammed you from behind. In those situations, most people would pull over, exchange personal and insurance information, or call emergency services if needed.
In a perfect world, the insurance companies would send out a payment to the person who was the victim of the accident, and life would continue. But what do you do when you are hit by another car, and that driver doesn’t stop? What if there’s no way to locate that person in order to ensure that you are compensated for the damages to your vehicle and any injuries you suffered? Fortunately, there is uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance.
What is a hit-and-run accident?
Essentially, an accident is considered a hit and run if a vehicle hits another vehicle, person, or object, and then does not stop, but continues driving, leaving the scene of the accident. According to Tennessee Code §55-10-101, it is against the law to leave the scene of an accident that you were involved in that resulted in someone’s injury or death.
After a driver has had an accident with another vehicle or person, that driver should pull over and return to the scene as quickly and as safely as possible without obstructing traffic. The driver should remain at the scene of the accident until information (driver’s name, address and the registration number of the vehicle) has been exchanged, and appropriate aid has been given. The driver may have to assist the victim themselves, or call for emergency services.
What can I do if the driver doesn’t stop?
First of all, make sure that you seek medical help as soon as possible after the accident. Even if you do not think you are injured, it is safer to get checked out now than waiting for delayed symptoms to hit you from any injuries that do not present themselves immediately. Delayed symptoms are also more difficult to receive compensation for, as the insurance company will note that more time has passed between the accident and your declaration of injuries.
Once you have received medical treatment, you should check your legally mandatory liability car insurance to see if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). If you do have the insurance, then this is your best way forward in receiving compensation for your injuries and damages.
How can uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage help me?
UM/UIM insurance is meant to cover your losses when the at-fault party does not have any insurance, or does not have enough insurance to cover your damages and injuries. Now, with hit-and-run cases, it becomes a little trickier as the at-fault party is unknown; unless you can find the person who hit you, you won’t be able to rely on their insurance to cover your injuries and losses. Instead you will have to file a complaint against a “John Doe” to recover under your UM/UIM policy. If the accident was caused by a driver who left the scene but did not make contact with your car (e.g. ran you off the road), you cannot pursue such a claim without an independent witness.
Likely, your insurance company should pay for your damages and injuries should you have UM/UIM coverage, though the nature of the accident may cause the process to be a little more complicated. That is why having a Sevierville car accident attorney on your side is a good idea. With someone who knows the laws inside and out, and has helped hit-and-run victims before, your lawyer can ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Our lawyers always recommend having UM/UIM coverage, as WalletHub reveals that 20% of Tennessee’s drivers are uninsured, and the likelihood that the driver you were in an accident with having no insurance is one in five. Those are good chances, and if you should get seriously injured in one such accident, you don’t want to suffer financially as well as physically.
Car insurance companies have a minimum amount for UM/UIM coverage that they have to carry for their clients:
- At least $25,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person.
- Up to $50,000 per accident.
- $15,000 in uninsured motorist property damage insurance per accident.
Unfortunately, the state of Tennessee has a shorter statute of limitations for filing accident claims. According to Tennessee Code §28-3-104, you have only one year from the date of the accident to seek compensation.
Insurance can be a pain to pay for, but when you need it, you are glad to have it. This is especially true when you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident where there is no at-fault driver that you can identify and file a claim against. While UM/UIM coverage is not mandatory, it is still essential to protect you from not only hit-and-runs, but from every other driver out there who isn’t insured, or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the medical costs of your injuries, or the damages done to your vehicle.
If you have been in a hit-and-run accident, and you want to ensure you get the compensation you deserve, call the experienced attorneys at Delius & McKenzie in Sevierville or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. Our firm has served clients in and around Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge for over two decades.
Attorney Bryan E. Delius was born and raised in Sevier County, TN. He founded Delius & McKenzie more than 20 years ago, after receiving his JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is admitted in Tennessee and in several federal court systems. Learn more about Bryan E. Delius.