Most people consider themselves to be law-abiding members of society. When it comes to driving, this means we obey the rules of the road, carry the required license and insurance, and if we are involved in a car accident, we stop to ensure everyone’s safety and exchange information with the other driver. However, what happens if the other driver doesn’t take the same steps?
According to 2020 data put out by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were 25,102 drivers who were involved in crashes in the state who left the scene of an auto accident, accounting for nearly 20% of the total crashes that year. If you’ve been involved in an incident like this and are wondering what to do after a hit and run, don’t face this alone. Call us at the Chionuma Law Firm, LLC to consult with a personal injury attorney. From our offices in Kansas City, Missouri, we can help those throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, including Lee's Summit, Independence, and Liberty.
Missouri Is an At- Fault Insurance State
Missouri is considered an at-fault state for insurance claims. This dictates what the requirements are when an accident occurs in the state. In fault-based states, the driver who was responsible for the accident is also financially responsible for paying any damages that come from it. This is typically done through liability coverage. This type of coverage is required to be carried by all drivers in the state. So, if you were hit by another car, your first step will almost always be to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy.
This process works well, but only if both drivers stop and exchange information after the crash. If the other driver flees the scene (known as a hit and run), you will likely have to file a claim against your own insurance policy and use your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Provision
If you were in an accident and the other driver fled the scene, you may be wondering if you can file an accident claim. The answer is yes, but the process will be different than normal.
Like liability insurance, every driver in the state is also required to carry uninsured motorists' coverage, which is currently set at a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This provision is specifically in place to help victims of uninsured or hit and run drivers recover damages. This means you’ll still be able to file a claim and receive damages, but you’ll have to prove that the accident wasn’t your fault, and that the other driver didn’t stay at the scene or was uninsured. This can be tricky, but having an attorney on your side can help you move forward.
Steps to Take if You Were in a Hit and Run
After any accident, taking the proper steps can make all the difference in your case.
Your first priority is to get yourself and any passengers to safety and ensure your medical needs are addressed. If you notice the other driver leaving, do not attempt to pursue them.
If you are able to note any details about the driver or their car, try to remember these details. This could include the car make and model, the color, any unique or identifying marks on the car like bumper stickers or dents, the license plate number, the driver's appearance, whether there was anyone else in the car with them, and details of the crash.
Call the police. When you call the police, you can share this information with them, which can help with their investigation. In some cases, they may be able to find the other driver. This not only means you’ll be able to file a lawsuit against them, but they’ll also likely be charged with the crime of hit-and-run, which could result in fines and jail time.
Talk to any witnesses who may have observed the accident take place. They may be able to help to identify the other driver. Get their names and contact information, which you can then share with the police. Their eye-witness testimony can also help in your future claim, should the driver be found.
Contact an attorney. A skilled attorney can help you work with your own provider to help you recover damages, and also pursue any personal injury claims should the other driver be found.
Contact your own insurance provider and explain that you were involved in a hit-and-run accident. With the help of an experienced car accident attorney, you can pursue the compensation you deserve.
Accidents like these can be some of the most difficult to work through. You may be suffering from injuries and property damage, and the added workload of dealing with an uninsured motorist can make this an extremely stressful situation.
Skilled & Compassionate Legal Advocacy
If you’re in the Kansas City, Missouri area and would like to consult an attorney about a recent hit-and-run accident you were involved in, reach out to our team at the Chionuma Law Firm, LLC. We are here for you.