Do I Need a Lawyer After a Hit-and-Run Accident?

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blue car that was hit by a driver who fled the scene

It happens more often than it should: you’re driving carefully, obeying the rules of the road, and suddenly get hit from behind by someone you never even saw. You pull to the side, ready to exchange information with the careless driver who hit you, and watch as they zoom past you and vanish into traffic. Or worse, you’re the one left at the scene with two wrecked cars as they flee into the night.

When you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident in New York, you might wonder what your next step should be. The other driver is nowhere to be found, and you’re the one who must pay for the damage and hospital bills. What can you do? Your first call should be to the legal team at Finz & Finz, P.C. Our experienced car accident attorneys can give you the advice you need.

What Is Considered a Hit-and-Run Accident In New York?

New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law § 600 states that leaving the scene of an accident knowing that damage or injuries have occurred is a crime.

Section 600(1)(a) states that if there is only property damage and the victim was not at the scene (if the person hit a parked car, for instance), then the other person must notify them and the police. If the victim is present, the person who caused the accident must remain at the scene and provide their insurance information and identification.

  • Failure to provide information will result in a traffic infraction.

Section 600(2) states that if there are injuries, the person who caused the accident must remain at the scene until police have arrived or been notified and provided their insurance information and identification.

  • Failure to remain at the scene and provide information will result in a misdemeanor. Repeat offenders may be charged with a felony.

In cases where an accident only causes property damage or minor injuries, police will usually not respond. That does not relieve either party of the responsibility to report the accident. Just because it was a “little fender bender” does not mean it should not be reported or that neither party does not have to provide their insurance information.

How Does No-Fault Insurance Work In New York?

New York requires drivers to carry no-fault or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to register their cars. No-fault insurance aims to pay all the driver’s and passengers’ medical and economic losses in an accident, no matter who was at fault, as quickly as possible after the accident.

The benefit of no-fault insurance is that questions of negligence and fault need not be addressed following an accident. Your insurance will pay your bills immediately, up to $50,000, with no questions asked. Having your bills paid at once, without question, is a great relief after a hit-and-run accident where the other driver cannot be found. No-fault insurance is considered primary insurance, meaning it pays before any other health insurance you may have.

The downside to no-fault is that New York’s no-fault insurance laws mean that any lawsuit can be filed to recover only losses that exceed the $50,000 benefit. You are only allowed to seek non-economic damages like pain and suffering if you suffer a “serious injury.” It also does not pay for any vehicle damage. It is only intended to pay for you and your passengers’ medical treatment.

How Could a Lawyer Help Me After a Hit-and-Run Crash?

If you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may wonder if you need an auto accident attorney. After all, the other driver is gone, and your own insurance will pick up the tab. In reality, you should treat a hit-and-run just like any other accident. After you’ve seen a doctor, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. You should have legal assistance for any insurance contact, even your own.

If the other driver is identified, they may be found liable under the legal theory of negligence per se. This means that since they violated a law by fleeing the scene, there is a presumption they were negligent. This allows you to file suit against them for any damages that exceed the no-fault benefit limit and any non-economic losses you may have suffered.

If your medical bills and other economic losses exceed the $50,000 limit, you can sue the other driver for:

  • Additional medical bills, including therapy, rehabilitation, and medication
  • Lost wages or future income
  • Future medical costs if the injury is deemed to be life-altering or permanent

If your injury was “serious” according to the insurance laws, you might be allowed to sue for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or punitive damages. All these additional claims would need the assistance of a personal injury attorney.

In addition, New York follows a “pure” comparative negligence rule in assigning fault. This means that your compensation can be reduced by the amount you are determined to be at fault in an accident. For instance, if you were found to be 25% at fault in an accident, you may only recover 75% of any compensation. For this reason, you should always have skilled legal counsel guiding you through your claim.

Contact the New York Hit-and-Run Attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C.

If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident in New York, you should have sound legal advice to help you file any claims and lawsuits. The issues surrounding a hit-and-run can be complicated, and you should not have to handle them alone.

When you contact Finz & Finz, you’ll be getting a team of New York car accident attorneys who understand the complexities of personal injury law. Our support staff includes nurses, paralegals, and trained personnel who will take your case from intake through trial and help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact Finz & Finz, P.C. at (855) TOP-FIRM, or fill out our intake form, and we’ll get back to you right away. The initial consultation is free.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.