Mobile, Alabama attorneys who will fight to help you recover compensation
Whenever there is a car accident in Alabama, the people involved are required by law to stay on the scene until it is sorted out. But sometimes, a driver will cause an accident and simply leave. If this has happened to you, it can leave you feeling frustrated, angry and confused about what to do next.
The car accident attorneys at Dean Waite & Associates, LLC know how to handle these types of accidents. That’s why people in Alabama turn to us when they have been injured in a hit-and-run accident. We can explore every option to help the injured recover as much financial compensation as possible.
There can be many reasons why drivers flee the scene of an accident. They may not have car insurance, as the law requires. They may be driving without a license. They may have been drinking or have something in the car they don’t want police to see. But when they drive away, the people they hurt are left to fend for themselves.
What should I do if I’m hurt in a hit-and-run?
First, try to take a picture of the car or remember as many details as you can, including the make, model and color of the car, the license plate number, and any physical details about the driver. Don’t pursue the driver yourself, though. Call the police and ask them to investigate the accident, and remain at the scene until they arrive. Get names and contact information from any witnesses, too.
Whose insurance pays for a hit-and-run accident?
If the hit-and-run driver is found, you can file a claim or a lawsuit against them in the same manner as any other car accident. If the driver is not found, your uninsured motorist protection, if you have it, stands in for the other driver’s insurance (since an unknown driver is uninsured by default). You are not required to carry this type of insurance in Alabama, but your insurance company is required to offer it to you.
What is a “phantom vehicle?”
A phantom vehicle is a vehicle that caused or contributed to an accident without making physical contact and then left the scene. For example, you may have had to swerve to avoid another vehicle and hit a guardrail or been forced off the road by a driver who unexpectedly changed lanes. It’s essentially a “hit and run without the hit.” If the phantom vehicle can’t be found, your damages should be covered by your uninsured motorist protection—if you can prove it. Insurance companies are quick to dispute phantom vehicle claims.
Do I need a lawyer for a hit-and-run accident?
If you were injured in a hit and run, you should at least talk to a lawyer. There’s no charge for the initial consultation, so you have nothing to lose. A lawyer can independently investigate the accident and help you deal with the insurance company to fight for full compensation for your injuries. Hit and runs can quickly get complicated, and having an experienced attorney on your side can make a substantial difference.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Alabama?
Under Alabama law, you may be charged with a Class C felony if you leave the scene of an accident in which someone was injured or killed. If convicted, you could face between 1-10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. For accidents that don’t involve an injury, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If found guilty, the penalty is up to one year of imprisonment and a possible $6,000 fine. Along with these penalties, offenders who leave the scene of an accident without identifying themselves or assisting those who need help can face other consequences, such as license revocation, probation, and other repercussions.
Why do drivers take off after an accident?
There are many reasons why a motorist may flee the scene of an accident without stopping to give his or her contact information and/or render aid to those who need it. A driver may commit a hit-and-run because he or she is:
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of a banned substance
- Driving with a suspended license or no license at all
- Driving with an active warrant or unpaid tickets
- Driving with illegal items in the car
- Driving a work vehicle and is afraid to get in trouble for crashing a company car
- Not a legal citizen of the U.S.
- Driving a stolen vehicle
- Actively fleeing from law enforcement officials
What does Alabama’s hit-and-run law say?
Alabama Code - Section 32-10-1 states: (a) The driver of any motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person, or in damage to a motor vehicle or other vehicle which is driven or attended by any person, shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible and shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of Section 32-10-2. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
Section 32-10-2 reads: The driver of any motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall give his name, address and the registration number of the vehicle he is driving, shall upon request exhibit his driver's license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any motor or other vehicle collided with or damaged and shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the transportation of, or the making of arrangements for the transportation of such person to a physician or hospital for medical or surgical treatment, if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such transportation is requested by the injured person.
Will my insurance company cover a hit-and-run?
Your insurance company may cover damages from a hit-and-run accident if you purchased uninsured motorist protection as a part of your car insurance policy since an unidentified driver is automatically considered uninsured. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you should be able to recover compensation for your accident-related expenses, up to your insurance policy limits. Without UM protection, you could face an uphill battle with the insurance company when you try to get compensated for losses that arise from a hit-and-run crash.
The driver who hit me was arrested. Am I all set?
It’s important to remember that any criminal charges the at-fault driver faces are separate from the civil consequences he or she may be subject to. Yes, being able to identify the driver who caused your hit-and-run crash is a major step toward recovering appropriate compensation for your damages, but don’t just assume you already won your case because an arrest was made. There are a lot of variables that can come into play in cases involving a hit-and-run, which is why you should at least contact an attorney to ensure you know all your legal rights and options.
Bear in mind that if the driver who fled the scene of your crash is arrested, you may be eligible to pursue punitive damages as a part of your claim. Generally speaking, punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff to punish a defendant for particularly egregious acts of negligence – and fleeing the scene of a serious crash certainly falls into that category.
Hit-and-runs are complicated. We can help.
As with any other car wreck, a hit-and-run accident can leave you injured. The cost of treating these injuries can quickly become overwhelming. And your injuries may leave you unable to work, resulting in lost income. In addition to the physical injuries you’ve suffered, the accident can also have a tremendous financial impact.
In some cases, it may be possible to identify the driver. The police can investigate your crash and may find evidence or a witness that leads them to the right person. Our firm can help you take action to hold this person responsible. But sometimes, it is not possible to identify the driver that caused your crash and sped away.
Recovering compensation after a hit-and-run accident usually begins by filing a claim with your own insurance company. If you did not waive uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) on your policy, your insurance company should compensate you for damages. But it is not always a simple process.
You deserve to be compensated
Insurance companies typically try to find ways to pay you as little as possible. They may question the extent of your injuries or damages to your car. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced car accident attorney on your side who knows how to deal with insurance companies.
If you do not have UM/UIM coverage, or if the damages you suffered exceed the limits of your policy, collecting damages can get complicated. We can help you pursue all available avenues for compensation.
If you were hurt in a hit-and-run accident, call us at (866) 434-5840 for a free case evaluation. We will review your options and answer your questions to help you decide how to proceed.