Hit and Run Accidents: Who Pays?

HitandrunHit and run accidents are not uncommon. There are many reasons for hit and run accidents. Typically the person is intoxicated, involved in some criminal activity or does not have a license or insurance.

Uninsured and underinsured insurance is insurance that you purchase to protect yourself in the event that you are in an auto accident and the at-fault driver either does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance to pay for your injuries.

There are two important issues you need to understand about this type of insurance:

  1. Your limits must exceed the at-fault driver’s coverage in order for it to become available. In other words, if the other driver has $100,000 in coverage, and you have $100,000 in coverage, then your coverage would not become available. If the other driver only had $50,000 coverage then you would have an additional $50,000 from your coverage. Obviously if the other driver had no insurance, then you would have $100,000 available. The insurance does not stack. So you cannot collect $50,000 from the at-fault driver and then an additional $100,000 through your insurance for a total of $150,000. That is not how it works. You can never exceed your policy limits.
  1. These cases are handled through arbitration as opposed to a trial. So you will not have your case presented to a jury. Instead it will be presented to one single judge or lawyer that will then make a decision on whether you win or lose, and how much money you are owed.

In California, the minimum liability insurance required to drive a car is only $15,000. That is not enough money to compensate for any serious injury yet many people only carry that level of insurance. Additionally, California has a high percentage of uninsured drivers on the roads. These two facts combined with the fact that this type of insurance is very affordable, means that you should purchase as much of it as possible under your insurance policy. If you have $500,000 liability coverage, then you should have $500,000 in uninsured motorist coverage as well.