An auto accident is already a scary and confusing experience. Injuries occur, damage to the vehicles can be severe, and paperwork needs to be filed with the authorities and the insurance companies. The experience is expensive, time-consuming, and often harrowing.
What can make this experience even worse is when a driver speeds off after an accident. Without their side of the story, it can be difficult to determine exactly what caused the accident and who was to blame. It’s also illegal to speed off after an auto accident that caused property damage or injuries to bystanders. This is because those suffering damages need to be reimbursed for the trauma they experienced.
Injuries sustained during the accident can lead to lost wages due to recovery time, and medical bills can range from a quick checkup to years of physical therapy. Damage to the vehicles often requires costly mechanical repairs before they are safe to drive again, and the emotional trauma of the entire experience can require years of counseling.
When a driver does a hit-and-run, they are depriving the victim of the justice and compensation they are entitled to. If you have been the victim of an Oregon hit-and-run driver, call Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law in Portland, OR, today.
What Makes Dealing with Hit-and-Run Auto Accidents so Challenging?
Dealing with a hit-and-run accident can be challenging in several ways that an average accident is not. As experienced auto accident attorneys, we’ve created a list of reasons why these types of incidents are unique. This is a broad and general list meant to help individuals who have experienced a hit-and-run. For personalized guidance specific to your accident, call our Portland office today.
Identification of the Hit-and-Run Driver
Often, the biggest challenge with a hit-and-run auto accident is identifying the driver who fled the scene. Without their information, it can be difficult to pursue a claim or even take legal action. It is sometimes common for hit-and-run drivers to be apprehended by police later, but it’s difficult to rely on that. If a driver cannot be identified, there are other avenues you can take to receive the compensation you deserve.
Complications with Insurance Companies
Insurance claims can be complicated in hit-and-run cases, especially if you can’t identify the other party. Depending on your coverage and Portland laws, your insurance company may or may not cover the damages.
In Oregon, it’s common to have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage as part of your auto insurance policy. This coverage is designed to protect you if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who either doesn’t have insurance or, in the case of a hit-and-run, can’t be identified. If you have collision coverage, it can be used to repair or replace your car after a hit-and-run, regardless of who was at fault. However, keep in mind that you’ll likely need to pay your deductible before your coverage will kick in.
The Insurance Claims Process After a Hit-and-Run
After a hit-and-run in Portland, you should file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide all the documentation you have, including police reports, photos from the scene, medical reports, and advice from your personal injury attorney. Your insurance company will review the claim under the terms of your policy and the Oregon laws that determine liability.
When the other driver of your collision is missing, your insurance will have to cover the damages themselves. Since insurance is a business, the claims adjusters are always looking for a reason to shift some of the blame onto you. If they can prove you were at least partly responsible for the accident, they can use this information to reduce your settlement or sometimes deny it altogether.
Having the right insurance coverage is key to ensuring you’re protected in a hit-and-run scenario. Understanding the specifics of your policy and Oregon’s insurance laws will help you navigate the claims process more effectively. Remember to make this process easier on yourself by consulting with a legal professional for tailored advice specific to your situation.
Legal Advice for Victims of Hit-and-Run Accidents
To protect yourself physically and financially after your accident, you should consider the following legal advice:
- Get the Right Insurance Coverage: Ensure you have appropriate insurance coverage, including uninsured motorist coverage. This can help cover damages if the other driver is not identified or uninsured.
- Document Everything at the Scene: Take photos of the scene of your accident, including your vehicle and any injuries you sustained. Document the conditions on the road, like traffic signs or weather advisories. Note the time, location, and any details about the other vehicle that you can remember. If there were any bystanders or witnesses, be sure you get their statements and contact information.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention: Always get checked by a medical professional after an auto accident, even if you feel fine. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent at the scene but could manifest themselves slowly over the next few days. Not reporting these injuries immediately can make insurance companies believe you are hiding something. If they start to suspect you are not being truthful with your testimony, they may fight your settlement more aggressively.
- File a Police Report Immediately: Report the incident to the police as soon as possible. This is a necessary step for insurance claims and when pursuing legal action. If you claim you were a victim of a hit-and-run accident, insurance companies will require a police report to confirm this. The police report also puts out an APB (all-points bulletin) to other officers in the area, which may lead to the arrest of your perpetrator.
- Seek a Legal Consultation: Consulting with an auto accident attorney, especially one experienced in the complications of a hit-and-run case, can make all the difference in the world. We can investigate your accident, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and represent you in court if needed.
Call Zbinden & Curtis: The Auto Accident Experts
Remember, your safety is the most important thing after a hit-and-run accident. Call our reliable personal injury attorneys today at (503) 287-5000. Let us deal with the challenges of your accident while you recover from your injuries.