Hit-and-run accidents literally come out of nowhere. One beautiful fall morning you’re riding along on your bike, enjoying the fresh air. Moments later, you’re lying on the ground, knocked off your bike by the driver of a car that is now speeding away from the scene, leaving you injured. This is a terrible situation to find yourself in, and unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. Drivers are more likely to leave the scene of a car-on-bike accident than a car-on-car crash.
If you are hit by a driver who leaves the scene, you may be disoriented, confused, scared, and most likely, injured. However, if you are able, it will be important for you to act fast upon being struck to make sure that you protect yourself as much as possible. Top Kansas City personal injury attorneys from Foster Wallace discuss in the article below.
What is the First Thing I Should Do After Being Hit?
When you are hit by a car while riding your bike, you may end up with serious injuries. You may be disoriented and unable to do anything other than receive medical help. If that is the case, the first and most important thing to do is to seek the medical attention you need. Call medical professionals to the scene immediately and focus on getting the care that you require.
Even if you are not suffering from serious injuries, it is still important to call medical help to the scene—along with law enforcement. Then, you will want to begin documenting your situation. Most importantly, you should document:
- Your injuries
- Your location
- A description of the driver or the car that hit you
- The identity of any witnesses that may have seen or been near your accident
How much you can document the driver or the car will depend upon your specific circumstances. A driver may stop briefly before deciding to flee the scene, in which case you may be able to get a picture of the car or the driver. If at all possible, try to get a picture of the license plate, as that will be the most helpful detail for law enforcement. The car may speed off before you can document anything. If that happens, at least try to make a mental note of the color, make, and model of the car.
In addition, if you are able, you also should:
- Ask any witnesses to stay and talk to the police
- Determine if there is any video footage of the accident
- Take pictures of the scene and surrounding area
When law enforcement arrives, make a detailed report. Naturally, in hit-and-run situation, it can be difficult for law enforcement to find the driver who struck you. However, even if law enforcement cannot find the person who hit you, having the police report will be helpful to you as you move forward with your medical treatment and seek compensation for your injuries, treatment, and related expenses.
What If Law Enforcement Locates the Hit-and-Run Driver?
If law enforcement is able to locate the driver who hit you, there may be criminal penalties imposed upon the driver. The criminal charges will depend upon the laws in your state.
In most states, there are significant penalties for hit-and-run drivers, including hefty fines and possible prison sentences. The severity of the consequences may depend upon how badly you were injured. If your injuries were minimal, the driver may be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if you were severely injured, the driver may be charged with a felony, which is a more serious crime that comes with stiffer penalties.
Criminal charges, however, will not provide you with compensation for your losses. To be compensated, you will either have to file a claim with the driver’s insurance provider or file a lawsuit against the driver. If the driver admits fault and cooperates, file a claim with the driver’s insurance provider. If the driver is not cooperative, you may need to file a civil lawsuit against the driver. You can file a civil lawsuit even if criminal charges also are filed and regardless of whether the driver is criminally convicted for the incident.
In a civil lawsuit, you can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Damage to property
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
If you want to file a suit against the driver, it is best to hire a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your state and has experience with hit-and-run bicycle accident cases. Your lawyer will be able to tell you if you have a claim and how to best proceed with that claim.
At Foster Wallace, LLC, our attorneys are experienced with hit-and-run cases. We are prepared to assess your case and do everything possible to see that you are compensated for your injuries.
What If Law Enforcement Cannot Locate the Hit-and-Run Driver?
The reality is that hit-and-run drivers can be difficult to identify. Without an identifiable driver who is at-fault, you cannot file a claim with the driver’s insurance provider or file a lawsuit against the driver. However, even if you cannot locate the driver, there may be other ways to be compensated.
For medical bills alone, you can rely on your own health insurance provider to help cover the costs and expenses associated with your accident. However, if you need money to cover lost wages or property damage, you will have to rely on your car insurance coverage. You may be able to file a claim with your own car insurance provider if you have:
- No-fault coverage. No-fault coverage compensates your losses regardless of who was at fault in the incident. This is sometimes called “personal injury” insurance. It may be limited to just your own personal injuries and not to any property damage, such as damage to your bike. Filing a claim under no-fault insurance may also increase your premiums.
- Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. Some states require you to have underinsured or uninsured coverage, which provides coverage if you’re hit by a driver who has insufficient insurance or no insurance at all. This is the best way to get your medical expenses paid when you can’t locate a hit-and-run driver. This type of coverage may also pay for lost wages and pain and suffering.
If you do not have car insurance or if your provider denies your claim, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to determine if there are any other remedies you can pursue. At Foster Wallace, LLC, we will assess your case and determine every possible resource to help you recover and to be compensated for your losses.
Have You Experienced a Personal Injury in Kansas City?
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