Hit and Run Accident Lawyer in Raleigh, NC
Being involved in any car accident can be annoying and stressful, but when the at-fault driver flees the scene to avoid responsibility, that annoyance can turn into anger and frustration. Why should you be left to pick up the pieces after an accident that was not your fault?
A hit and run collision can leave you with serious injuries, but you do not have to face them alone. The lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. can help you pursue the compensation you need, whether it’s from the at-fault driver or your own uninsured motorist insurance coverage.
Our firm provides the compassionate, personalized legal representation that injured North Carolinians deserve. Our attorneys and staff work closely with our clients. We pride ourselves on responsive communication with clients to keep them up to date on our progress on their cases. We will work to seek the compensation you need to recover financially from a hit and run accident.
Contact Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., today for a free case review.
What Are Hit and Run Accidents?
A hit and run accident occurs when a driver involved in a crash does not stop at the scene of the accident, contact the authorities, provide aid to anyone injured, or leave contact and insurance information.
A hit and run collision can involve two or more vehicles. Hit and run accidents also can involve a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian or bicyclist. The police sometimes identify and locate hit and run drivers by using surveillance camera footage or eyewitness descriptions of the driver or the vehicle.
Why Do Hit and Run Accidents Happen?
Drivers sometimes flee from crashes despite knowing they are legally required to stop.
Some of the reasons why hit and run drivers leave the scene include:
- The driver does not realize that they hit another vehicle, a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or a property.
- The driver is intoxicated and wants to avoid being charged with driving under the influence (DUI)
- The driver does not have liability insurance as required by state law and does not want to face charges for failing to carry insurance or be held financially responsible for causing an accident
- The driver fears that someone may have been injured or killed in the crash and wants to avoid being arrested
- The driver believes they have outstanding arrest warrants and wants to avoid being arrested if police respond to the scene
- The driver has other legal issues, such as being an undocumented immigrant, and wants to avoid law enforcement
The shock of a motor vehicle accident can cause a driver to panic and flee the scene of the accident. Once the driver calms down, the driver may feel embarrassed and too ashamed to return to the accident scene.
Hit and Run Laws in North Carolina
North Carolina General Statute §20-166 requires a driver who knows or has reason to know that they have been involved in a crash that caused an injury or death or resulted in property damage, whether they were at fault or not, to stop at the scene of the accident. The driver must remain at the location of the accident until a police officer completes their investigation or allows the driver to leave. The driver may not leave the accident scene except to call for law enforcement or medical assistance or to reach a safer location, if necessary.
Fleeing a motor vehicle accident that results in property damage or non-serious bodily injury constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor under North Carolina law. A conviction carries a maximum penalty of up to 120 days in jail and a potential fine.
Fleeing an accident that the driver knows or reasonably should know has resulted in serious bodily injury or death constitutes a Class F felony. A conviction carries a penalty of up to 41 months in prison, plus fines and suspension of driving privileges.
What Should I Do After a Hit and Run Accident in Raleigh?
Being involved in a hit and run accident can be overwhelming.
However, there are steps you can take if you were hit by another driver that will protect your legal rights. You should:
- Report the accident to law enforcement and wait for an officer to arrive at the scene.
- If possible, take down the license plate number of the fleeing vehicle.
- Gather evidence from the accident scene by taking photos or videos of vehicle damage, injuries, debris on the road, and traffic signs.
- Speak to any eyewitnesses who may have seen the hit and run driver and write down their contact information.
- Write down any details you remember about the fleeing vehicle, such as its make, model, color, or license plate number, any distinctive features of the vehicle, and a physical description of the other driver.
- Notify your auto insurance company of the accident to maintain your eligibility to file a claim for uninsured motorist, medpay, or collision coverage.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible to have a doctor diagnose injuries you suffered in the crash. Your injuries will be added to your medical record, which could provide useful evidence later.
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and instructions, and keep all follow-up appointments.
- If you must miss work because of your injuries, get a written note from your doctor.
- Keep records of medical expenses and other costs you incur due to the crash.
- If you have health insurance, North Carolina law says you should file your bills on the health insurance.
- Gather your income records and paystubs if you miss work due to your injuries.
- Keep notes of the pain and physical difficulties you experience due to your injuries.
- Contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation.
Who Pays My Compensation After a Hit and Run Accident?
You may be able to seek compensation from a hit and run driver’s liability insurance if the driver and/or at fault vehicle can be identified after the accident. Even if the driver or car cannot be located, you still have options for seeking coverage of your injuries and other losses. These options include:
- Health insurance – You should use your health insurance to cover the costs of treating your injuries up to the limits of the coverage. Whether you must reimburse your health insurance from the auto insurance is a complicated question that requires a discussion with your attorney.
- Medpay coverage – Medpay is an optional coverage that you can purchase with your car insurance policy. It covers medical expenses if you or passengers in your car are hurt in a collision or if you are struck by a motor vehicle while walking as a pedestrian, regardless of who is at fault and regardless of whether the bill has already been paid by health or liability insurance.
- Collision coverage – Collision coverage is another optional coverage available for purchase with your car insurance policy. It will pay for damage to your vehicle caused by a collision with another vehicle or object, regardless of who was at fault. Your insurer will pay the costs of repairing your vehicle or the actual cash value of your vehicle, whichever is less.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage in North Carolina
In addition to the above insurance, you may have the option of turning to your auto insurer for uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Car insurance policies in North Carolina include uninsured motorist coverage, with a policy limit equal to the policy limit of your bodily injury liability coverage.
A hit and run driver who cannot be identified or located is treated like an uninsured motorist, allowing you to file a UM claim. With uninsured motorist coverage, your insurer steps in for the hit and run driver to cover the costs of expenses related to bodily injuries and vehicle or property damage from the accident.
Unfortunately, North Carolina has an obscure loophole for auto insurance companies. Your uninsured motorist coverage will not take effect unless the hit and run, or “phantom”, vehicle makes contact with your vehicle. If the phantom car runs you off the road without “trading paint” with your car, your UM coverage will probably deny the claim. That is when you hope you have collision coverage.
What To Do If Your Parked Car Is Hit
If another motorist hit your parked car, they should always stop and notify the car’s owner about what happened. The motorist can do this in person if the car’s owner is present when the collision occurs. If the at-fault driver cannot track down the owner of the damaged car in a reasonable period of time, the driver should leave a note on the damaged vehicle that provides the following information:
- The time, date, and location of the collision
- Name and address of the driver who hit the parked car
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration number
- Car insurance policy number
A collision with property other than a vehicle, such as a utility pole or mailbox, must be reported to law enforcement or the North Carolina DMV.
Talk to an Experienced Accident Lawyer
Hit and run accidents can leave you with costly medical bills, lost wages, and other crash-related expenses. You should not be on the hook for the costs of an accident someone else caused. At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., we have the experience and knowledge to help you seek compensation for your injuries and other losses after a hit and run collision. Contact our office today at 919-661-9000 to speak to a Raleigh hit and run accident lawyer during a free, no-obligation case review.