Getting into a motor vehicle accident is usually scary, stressful, and traumatic – especially when you suffer serious personal injuries. But when the other driver who caused the accident flees the scene before you can exchange contact and insurance information, it can make the accident recovery process that much more difficult. You may feel like you’re left holding the bag on the financial consequences of the accident.
Fortunately, even if you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may have options for seeking financial compensation. An experienced hit-and-run accident attorney can investigate your accident to try and track down the at-fault driver. If the hit-and-run driver is never found, you may still have options. A lawyer can pursue alternative sources – such as uninsured motorist (UM) coverage – to pay for medical treatments, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other losses.
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, contact the Mississippi attorneys at Derek L. Hall, PC, today to go over your case and learn more about your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation. Call now to schedule a free initial case evaluation.
Penalties for a Hit-and-Run in Mississippi
Fleeing the scene of a motor vehicle accident constitutes a crime in Mississippi. Committing a hit-and-run is charged by default as a misdemeanor. A conviction for a hit-and-run can result in a jail sentence of 30 days to one year, in addition to fines of $100 to $5,000.
If the hit-and-run accident results in severe injury, disfigurement, or the death of another person, it is charged as a felony. A conviction for felony hit-and-run can result in a sentence of imprisonment for five to 20 years, in addition to a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. The convicted driver will also have their driver’s license revoked.
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you should take the following steps to help protect your rights and interests and put yourself in the best position for recovering maximum compensation for your injuries and losses:
- Call 911, especially if you have been injured, or contact the police department directly to report that you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident.
- Record as much information about the vehicle that hit you as possible, including the make, model, color, any other distinguishing features about the vehicle, and license plate number. Pass this information on to the police so that they can begin trying to track down the driver.
- Document the accident scene by taking photos or videos, including photos or videos of the vehicle that hit you as it flees the scene, damage to your vehicle, any visible injuries you suffered, the traffic controls at the scene, and the road, traffic, weather, and lighting conditions at the time of the accident.
- Get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the accident. They may help identify the driver that hit you and can provide testimony as to how the accident occurred.
- Also, check for any nearby surveillance cameras that may have caught the accident and try to secure copies of the footage.
- See your medical provider for an examination to identify and treat all your injuries.
- Speak to an experienced hit-and-run accident attorney who can begin investigating your case.
Financial Recovery in Hit and Run Car Accidents
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages, such as:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity or potential
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment or quality of life
- Loss of consortium
In particularly egregious accidents, such as if you were hit by a drunk driver who fled the scene because they had previous DUI convictions, you may be entitled to seek punitive damages. These aren’t meant to compensate you for losses but instead to punish the at-fault driver for their conduct and to deter others from committing similar acts.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage for Hit-and-Run Crashes
When an at-fault driver collides with your vehicle, that driver is usually held responsible for compensating you for your injuries and damages, with the compensation being paid by the driver’s insurance provider. But when the at-fault driver flees the scene of your accident, you may not know what insurance company to turn to for coverage for your damages.
However, if you or a family member in your household has an auto insurance policy, you may be entitled to turn to the uninsured motorist coverage under that policy for compensation.
Although UM coverage is typically used in accidents where the other driver doesn’t have an insurance policy, when a driver commits a hit-and-run, that driver is treated as not having insurance coverage. If they can’t be identified, their insurance status remains unknown. An injured victim can file a claim under their own uninsured motorist coverage.
Don’t think that the insurance company will pay up in full on your UM claim simply because they are “your” insurer. Even in these situations, the insurance company’s goal is still to pay out as little as possible in order to maximize profits.
How a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer in Mississippi Can Help
When you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Mississippi, the car accident attorneys of Derek L. Hall, PC, are ready to help you seek compensation for your injuries and financial and personal damages.
Our hit-and-run accident lawyers can move your case forward toward the financial recovery you deserve by:
- Investigating the hit and run accident to recover forensic, video/photographic, or eyewitness evidence that may identify the perpetrator of your hit and run accident
- Tracking down the driver in your hit and run accident
- Working with experts to develop accident reconstruction reports to identify the driver and show how they caused your
- Filing claims with the insurance companies, including claims for uninsured motorist coverage with your own insurance policy
- Aggressively negotiating with the insurers for full and fair compensation of your losses
Is there a time limit for me to file a hit-and-run case?
Under the Mississippi statute of limitations, you typically have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the driver who hit you for compensation for your losses. The court may elect to extend, or “toll,” the statute of limitations for a hit-and-run case if you do not immediately know the identity of the hit-and-run driver.
If the hit-and-run driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, does that make a difference in my car accident case?
If you were injured by a hit-and-run driver who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident, the driver’s intoxication may serve as evidence of per se negligence – in other words, the driver committed negligence by breaking the law at the time of the accident (by violating DUI laws). This can greatly reduce your burden of proof in your claim for compensation.
What are the civil consequences of a hit-and-run accident?
A person who is convicted for a hit-and-run accident may have their driver’s license suspended or revoked. In addition, if the accident causes injury or property damage, the driver may be held liable to compensate injured parties if it is established that the driver caused the accident.
How do you prove a hit-and-run?
It can often prove difficult to identify the fleeing driver in a hit-and-run accident. Accident scene photos and vehicle damage reports may yield key forensic evidence that can allow police to identify a hit-and-run driver. Nearby dashcam or surveillance video footage may also identify a fleeing vehicle. Finally, eyewitnesses to the accident may identify the fleeing vehicle or provide a license plate number that allows police to track down the driver.
Does car insurance cover a hit-and-run?
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may be entitled to turn to your own insurance policy for coverage for your injuries and damages if you have uninsured motorist coverage. When a driver who causes an accident flees the scene, the driver is presumed to lack insurance coverage, entitling you to file a claim under your uninsured motorist policy. You may also be entitled to seek compensation for your vehicle damage if you have collision or comprehensive coverage under your insurance policy.
What are the different types of hit-and-run car accidents?
Examples of different types of hit-and-run accidents include:
- A motorist hits a parked vehicle and drives away without contacting the parked vehicle’s owner or leaving a note with the motorist’s contact and insurance information.
- A motorist hits another vehicle and flees the scene.
- A motorist hits a bicyclist or pedestrian and flees the scene.
After you have been victimized by a hit-and-run driver, don’t delay in securing the experienced legal representation you need to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact our Mississippi hit-and-run accident attorneys at Derek L. Hall, PC, today to discuss your legal rights and options. We will help you learn more about the ways our firm can fight to secure the financial recovery you need and deserve.
Call us now to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.