What to do in a hit-and-run accident
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on December 14th, 2021
On August 8, 2021, a Philadelphia mother and her toddler son were victims of a hit-and-run accident. While walking under an overpass near their home, they were struck by a vehicle. The accident left both of them critically injured. Days after the accident, the boy was still in a critical but stable condition. Unfortunately, his mother died from her injuries soon after.
The police investigated the accident and worked to find the fleeing driver. Law enforcement did not have much evidence to work with because no surveillance or other methods or recording captured the accident. They also did not find any witnesses to the collision.
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a vehicle hits another vehicle, object or person, and the automobile leaves the collision scene. Under Pennsylvania law, a driver in a motor vehicle accident that results in property damages, bodily injury or death must stop immediately and remain at the accident location. The driver must also provide aid to anyone injured in the crash. If the driver cannot help, they must contact emergency responders.
Failure to stop at the scene after having a motor vehicle accident is a third-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. The driver faces a felony charge if the victim has a bodily injury or dies. For failure to stop involving bodily injury, the defendant is guilty of a third-degree felony and a minimum of 90 days imprisonment and at least a $1,000 fine. A hit-and-run accident resulting in death is a second-degree felony with at least a three-year imprisonment and a $2,500 fine.
In a hit-and-run crash, the injured party may not have the assistance and aid of the at-fault driver or bystanders near the accident. The individual’s injuries may worsen if they do not receive immediate medical care.
When the driver leaves the scene, finding them requires more time and resources, and an investigation still may not locate the person. As a result, the victim cannot seek compensation from the driver who fled the crash site.
What To Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
After a hit-and-run accident, the injured person may be unsure of the steps to take. The victim should do the following:
- Stay at the accident scene.
- Report the accident to the police.
- Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident.
- Find out as much information as possible about the at-fault driver, including license plate number, the vehicle’s direction after the crash, description of the car and description of the driver.
- Seek medical care for treatment of any known or unknown injuries received from the collision.
- Keep all documents relating to the crash, including but not limited to the accident report, notes, witnesses information, medical records, healthcare bills, medical excuses, and vehicle repair or replacement information.
Without information about the driver, the victim may have to file a claim with their insurance to receive compensation. Pennsylvania law requires all vehicles registered in the state to have insurance coverage. The automobile insurance policy must contain first-party benefits and third-party liability coverage.
In a hit-and-run accident, the victim files a first-party claim with their insurance provider. If the insured party dies, the personal representative of their estate may receive accidental death and funeral benefits.
When the at-fault driver is uninsured, their third-party liability insurance covers the damages and injuries. However, the hit-and-run victim may not have the driver’s insurance information and cannot make a third-party claim with the fleeing driver’s insurance provider. Therefore, the victim must file an uninsured motorist claim with their own insurance carrier.
Uninsured motorist insurance is additional and optional coverage in Pennsylvania. The accident is eligible for an uninsured motorist claim if the driver’s identity is unknown or the at-fault driver does not have insurance. The coverage provides compensation for the victim’s damages and other losses from the collision.
Know Your Rights After a Vehicle Crash
If you or someone you love has been involved in a Philadelphia car accident, contact the attorneys at MyPhillyLawyer. Our attorneys understand how to challenge insurance companies and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Call MyPhillyLawyer today to discuss your auto accident case. Know your rights after an auto accident — call 215-227-2727 or toll-free 800-461-3741 to talk to our attorneys about your legal rights and options. Your initial consultation is free.
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