Example of a Hit and Run Accident Case We Handled
Our client’s vehicle was hit on the front right end by another vehicle that was attempting to pass on a back road just outside of Bangor, Maine, pushing our client’s vehicle off the road into a ditch. Our client was badly injured from the collision and was unable to call police. Fortunately another vehicle came upon the accident scene and, seeing our client’s vehicle in the ditch, pulled over to provide assistance. The hit-and-run driver was never located, despite diligent efforts by law enforcement to locate the driver.
Because the driver was not able to be located, we pursued the claim on our client’s behalf against her own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM coverage). UIM coverage is normally used in cases where a person who causes an accident does not have insurance coverage or has inadequate insurance coverage to pay for our client’s medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc. However, UIM coverage is also helpful in this type of situation where a person who causes an accident flees the scene and cannot be located. This is yet another reason for all motorists to check to make sure they have adequate UIM coverage on their policies. (As a side note: Increases in UIM coverage are fairly inexpensive and we generally recommend having no less than $500,000 in coverage, preferably $1,000,000.)
We immediately notified our client’s insurance company of the pending claim (a requirement under her insurance contract). The insurance company came out to inspect her vehicle which was heavily damaged when it collided with a rock and several trees before coming to a rest. Because the damage to the vehicle was so extensive, it was very difficult to see where the hit-and-run driver collided with our client’s vehicle, causing it to go off the road. Our client’s UIM carrier claimed initially that there was insufficient evidence to establish that our client’s story was true. It took the position that she simply lost control, possibly due to speeding.
Unfortunately our client’s driving history was poor, with several accidents of record in the previous 10 years. Two of those accidents occurred due to speeding and did not involve other vehicles. While this information would not be admissible if the case ever went to trial, it nevertheless tends to cause an insurance company to feel justified in denying a claim, just as it did in this case.
Fortunately our firm was contacted soon after the accident occurred and before repairs were made to our client’s vehicle (or it was sold for scrap). The damage to the vehicle turned out to be critical evidence in helping the expert we hired determine precisely where the other vehicle collided and provide also information about the force of the impact. Detailed, high resolution photographs of the damage showed paint from another vehicle on the front left side of our client’s vehicle (an area of the vehicle that also collided with a rock, obscuring the damage from the other driver’s vehicle). Our expert was able to clearly demonstrate that two collisions had occurred to that area of that vehicle, one caused by the other vehicle and one caused by the collision with the rock. To a layman looking at the damage, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to see that two collisions had occurred due to the extensiveness of the damage. The use of cutting-edge technology, including very high resolution photography, ultimately resulted in the insurance company reversing its position and settling the case for a fair and reasonable amount.