Coverage for Hit-and-Run Accidents

Coverage for Hit-and-Run Accidents

A typical hit-and-run accident is a collision between two vehicles, and one of them leaves the accident scene. However, there are other types of hit-and-run accidents. A hit-and-run accident may also involve chain reaction accidents, flying auto parts, auto debris on the road, and objects thrown or shot from other vehicles.

The standard uninsured motorist endorsement requires an insured, who was hit in a hit-and-run, to prove that there was physical contact at the time of the accident between the insured’s vehicle and the vehicle that left the scene. Many states address the problem of hit-and-run accidents in their statute. Other states do not. For the states that do, uninsured motorist statutes can be divided into five categories: physical contact required; physical contact required unless there is no corroborating evidence, physical contact neither required nor prohibited; no express reference to hit-and-run accidents or to physical contact; and permits recovery in no-contact case.

A claim by an insured that the person, who caused the hit and run, did not have insurance is no proof of lack of insurance. The insured must present enough evidence to convince a judge or a jury that all reasonable efforts have been made to find out if an insurance policy existed. The insured must also show that the accident was caused by an unknown motorist. A person is not unknown simply because his or her whereabouts are unknown. An insured sought uninsured motorist benefits for injuries sustained when the insured’s car went out of control after driving over oil on a roadway. The insured testified that there were numerous logs on the roadway at the time of the accident and argued the oil must have been left after an accident involving a logging truck. The court found sufficient evidence for a jury to infer that the insured was injured as a result of the negligence of an unknown driver.

The standard uninsured motorist clause requires an insured, or someone on his or her behalf, to report a hit-and-run accident and to file a statement of facts within a certain time. The purpose of these requirements is to make sure that the insured reported the facts of the hit-and-run while still fresh in his or her mind and to allow time for the insured’s insurance company to make its own investigation. Several statutes impose similar requirements.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.