Hit and Runs in New York: What to Do if You’re a Victim
In hit and run cases, the at-fault driver illegally flees the scene before authorities are notified. Victims are left traumatized, potentially injured, and alone in having to identify the driver. Although you can’t plan for the unpredictable, there is information you should know that will help if you are ever a victim in a hit and run situation.
Hit & Runs: A National Cause for Concern
On a national level, AAA recently released a study revealing that a hit and run occurs once every 43 seconds. The most recent data available on the subject, from 2016, displays a total of over 2,000 fatalities from hit and run accidents. This was the highest number recorded to date and demonstrated a startling 60% increase from 2009.
Hit & Runs in New York City
In 2014, a rapid increase in the number of dangerous traffic accidents in New York led Mayor Bill de Blasio to launch Vision Zero. Vision Zero is an initiative devised to lower the number of traffic fatalities on the streets of New York to zero by 2024. The program has proven effective with steady declines of fatalities, but experts are now concerned with the increase of hit and run incidents.
Recent Hit & Run Cases in the Bronx
Recently, a 35-year-old Bronx man died after being struck by a car while stepping out of a taxi. The driver fled the scene and is still unknown. Police don’t have much to help track down the driver aside from a white sedan being seen driving away.
In the case of this 78-year-old victim, the at-fault driver stopped briefly after driving into the woman and knocking her over. He said nothing to the woman before driving away, leaving her injured on the ground. Despite having witnesses and surveillance video of the incident, the driver remains unknown. The woman has physically recovered but remains traumatized from the incident.
When considering New York’s growing population, these tragic stories prove how a hit and run can happen anywhere at any time. Falling victim to a hit and run can be both physically and mentally taxing. Losing a loved one in these circumstances is particularly anguishing. To best prepare for the unthinkable, here are some things to remember when the driver flees the scene.
What to Do Immediately After a Hit and Run
- Your wellbeing is the main priority. Determine your location and call 911. Request a police officer and medical attention even if you don’t think it’s necessary at first. Make sure your injuries are tended to and properly documented.
- Stay at the scene. DO NOT attempt to chase down the driver under any circumstances.
- Try to retain any details regarding the make/model of the vehicle and its direction. Without any facts, it’s nearly impossible to find the driver and hold him or her liable.
- Talk to any witnesses of the accident and obtain their full names and contact information. It is likely an unharmed bystander will remember details you didn’t notice and will be able to provide a different perspective. The help will provide police officers with all the information they need to make a hit and run report.
- Take pictures of you and your accident scene.
Remember that a hit and run victim can be a pedestrian, cyclist, or other vehicle operator.
How to Get Compensated for Damages in a Hit and Run Case
It is against the law for any at-fault driver to leave the scene of an injury to another person without filing a police report. However, it is not uncommon for drivers in New York to do so in an attempt to avoid liability.
This may leave victims helpless when looking to hold someone accountable for their financial needs, medical bills, property damage, etc. There are, however, alternative ways to obtain compensation, depending on your situation.
New York’s No-Fault Law enforces minimum insurance requirementsin order to register a car. Every driver in New York must obtain the following three auto insurance coverages:
1. No-Fault Personal Injury Protection
No-fault injury protection from New York state covers you, the passengers in your vehicle, and pedestrians in the event of injury, even if you don’t have health insurance. The purpose is to restore economic loss as quickly as possible whether there was negligence or not. However, with severe injuries, a standard policy may not provide enough coverage for your losses.
The basic personal injury protection plan only covers up to $50,000.00 per person. This amount is to be applied only to economic loss. It does not cover damages such as pain and suffering or destruction of personal property. It does cover:
- Ongoing medical and rehabilitation expenses
- 80% of lost earnings up to $2,000.00 each year, for three years
- Up to $25 a day for up to a year for other necessary expenses
In the case of fatality, the basic plan provides a $2,000.00 death benefit to the estate of the victim in addition to the $50,000.00 maximum No-Fault limit.
Following these steps will better your chances for maximum compensation under No-Fault:
- As a passenger in the vehicle struck by the hit-and-run driver, Fill out an application with the insurance carrier of the car you were in. As a pedestrian, file with the insurance of the at-fault vehicle and your own insurance policy.
- You have 30 days to file from the day of the accident. Do not delay or assume you won’t need coverage. Remember that in a car accident, No-Fault coverage comes first to health insurance.
- If filing for lost earnings, you will need to receive documentation from your employer proving all loss of income.
2. Liability: Bodily Injury and Property Damage
The second coverage required by New York state mandates that your insurance provides legal defense for any claim made against you. This policy compensates for damages such as property loss or pain and suffering. It also covers any economic loss not accounted for by the No-Fault minimum. The minimum limits for this policy are:
- For any one person: $25,000 for bodily injury, or $50,000 for injury resulting in death
- For any two or more people involved in one accident: $50,000 for bodily injury, or $100,000 for injury resulting in death for two or more people
Your insurance company is not responsible for your legal representation when you file a claim for bodily injury or property damage. It is your responsibility to prove the other party is at fault. With the burden of proof in your hands, do your research to find an experienced lawyer who can help you make the strongest case.
3. Uninsured Motorist Coverage
This is the important policy for hit and run victims. This policy covers bodily injury if you or any passengers are injured by an uninsured or unidentified motorist in the state of New York state. The minimum limits for this coverage are the same as required for liability insurance.
Getting Compensation with No Insurance
In the case that you are injured by a hit and run and do not have any insurance available to you, you can still be eligible for uninsured motorist protection and no-fault coverage with the New York Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC).
Filing through MVAIC strictly applies to New York residents who were injured in New York by a vehicle under circumstances such as the following:
- Vehicle and driver were unidentified (hit and run)
- Vehicle was uninsured
- Vehicle was stolen and/or denied coverage
You must also meet these requirements:
- You do NOT have other accessible insurance
- You are NOT the owner of the at-fault vehicle
- You are NOT the spouse of the at-fault vehicle’s owner
If you file through MVAIC, there will be strict time frames to meet in order to be eligible for compensation:
- The accident needs to be reported to authorities within 24 hours of incidence.
- A Notice of Intention form needs to be completed and submitted to MVAIC within 90 days if the incident was a hit and run. You have 180 days to complete this form if you identify the driver.
- You will need to provide evidence such as police reports, medical reports, damage assessments and surveillance footage if possible.
Failure to abide by these requirements and timeframes while filing through MVAIC will lead to your claim being denied. It’s strongly suggested that you pursue this somewhat demanding avenue with the help of an experienced attorney.
Contact a New York Hit & Run Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been injured after a hit and run in the Bronx or Greater Hudson Valley area, know that you don’t need to navigate this difficult and complex experience by yourself. Sobo & Sobo have a team of experienced car accident lawyers that are ready to hear your story, and determined to fight for your rightful compensation. Call today, or visit one of our office locations for a free consultation.