Albuquerque Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney
Unfortunately, many people choose to flee the scene of an accident in what is called a hit-and-run. However, fleeing the scene risks criminal charges, the penalties for which are particularly severe if anyone is seriously injured or killed. People involved in a car accident are required to give reasonable assistance to anyone who is injured by calling 911 and helping as necessary. If you are hurt in a hit-and-run, you may want to consult an Albuquerque car accident attorney to discuss a strategy for seeking compensation for your injuries. The Fine Law Firm may be able to help.
New Mexico Hit-and-Run Accident Resources:
- Who pays for damages in a hit-and-run?
- How much is the average hit-and-run settlement worth?
- What should I do if I’ve been involved in a hit-and-run?
- How will my insurance coverage change after a hit-and-run?
- What are New Mexico’s driver insurance coverage requirements?
- When should I contact a hit-and-run accident attorney?
Who Pays for Damage in a Hit-and-Run?
New Mexico is a fault-based insurance state. After a car crash, the at-fault driver will be responsible for paying for victims’ damages. If the at-fault driver flees the scene, however, the remedy is not so clear cut. The person that should have paid for damages remains unidentified and unavailable. Luckily, many other outlets for financial recovery may be available to you as the victim of a hit-and-run accident in New Mexico.
- Your car insurance company. The first party you should seek damages from after a hit-and-run is the your own insurance company. If you have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, this coverage will pay for your damages as if the at-fault driver had stayed at the scene, but did not have adequate insurance. If you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance policy may pay for your medical bills and property damages with or without uninsured motorist insurance.
- The government. If a malfunctioning traffic light, hidden stop sign, fallen tree, pothole, or another roadway defect contributed to your hit-and-run accident, you could hold the City of Albuquerque (or the state) responsible for your damages. It is the city’s legal duty to maintain public roadways. If the city was negligent in roadway maintenance and this contributed to your crash, the city could be liable to you even if the at-fault driver flees.
- A vehicle manufacturer. If a defective car part contributed to your accident or injuries, the manufacturer may be responsible for paying your damages in lieu (or in addition to) the at-fault driver. A defective seatbelt that made your injuries much worse than they otherwise would have been, for example, could give you grounds for a product liability claim against the seatbelt maker.
Several third parties may have contributed to your car accident, presenting potential defendants during your injury claim. This is why it is important to wait until the completion of an investigation before filing your claim. Otherwise, you might miss a defendant that could be responsible for your losses. A law firm can investigate your hit-and-run accident to help you identify all potential defendants. Your lawyer can also negotiate with your own insurance company to maximize compensation.
How Much Is the Average Settlement in a Hit-and-Run Claim?
You might think the average settlement for a hit-and-run claim is less than a typical car accident because the at-fault driver is unavailable to take accountability. However, this is not always the case. Your case could be worth just as much as a normal car accident claim depending on the circumstances. Instead of filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you may need to file your suit against a third party, such as the city for a dangerous roadway or an auto manufacturer for a defective car part.
If you have uninsured, underinsured, or comprehensive insurance coverage, your own insurer may provide the recovery you seek. No matter how you go about your claim, the amount you recover depends on many different factors. Hiring a lawyer can ensure you do everything in your power to maximize the value of your settlement. The average car accident settlement is between $10,000 and $25,000 depending on the extent of the injuries and damages. Certain cases, however, can range from $50,000 to $100,000 and beyond.
Your hit-and-run accident settlement should cover all your past and future medical bills, property damage repairs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other crash-relate expenses. If your insurance company offers you a settlement that falls short, do not say yes until speaking to an attorney. Our lawyers can review the facts of your case and give you an accurate estimate as to its value. We can then take over settlement negotiations for higher results. Review our past case results to see the exceptional outcomes we have secured for other crash victims in New Mexico.
What to Do After You Are Involved in a Hit-and-Run
A hit-and-run accident is different from other types of collisions. On top of dealing with pain and confusion in the aftermath, victims also have to contend with the crime of the at-fault party fleeing the scene. Recovering from a hit-and-run accident will take unique steps that may not be necessary for standard car accidents. Taking the right steps for your case is important, however, for the overall strength of your claim.
- Call 911. Always call the police after a hit-and-run or any crash that involves a crime. Call the police immediately and report the collision. Explain that it was a hit-and-run, and give any information you have about the other driver to police (vehicle description, license plate number, description of the driver, etc.). They can dispatch one officer to try to find the culprit while another responds at the scene.
- Request paramedics. If the hit-and-run accident gave you or anyone else personal injuries, request paramedics when you call the police. Try not to move, except to move out of harm’s way, while you wait. This will minimize the risk of making minor injuries more serious. Do not delay medical care, as this could hurt your prognosis as well as your hit-and-run accident claim.
- Gather information. The information available to you might be less after a hit-and-run accident compared to other crashes, but you can still document what is available. Write down the date, time, and location of your crash, as well as any details you can remember about what happened. Take photos of your injuries and property damage. Get your police report number and request copies of your medical records.
- Call your insurance company. Once you have received medical care, call your auto insurance company. Explain that a hit-and-run driver caused your crash, and that you would like to file a claim for your damages. Your insurance agent will tell you whether you have the right type of insurance to cover these losses or not.
- Contact an attorney. If your own insurance policy does not adequately cover your past and future medical bills, lost wages, and property damage repairs, contact a hit-and-run accident attorney. A hit and run lawyer can help you explore other outlets for financial recovery, such as filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or another party, such as the City of Albuquerque.
Your main goal after a hit-and-run should be to protect yourself – physically and financially. Document everything for future reference. The more information you collect about your crash, the stronger your claim will be. Your insurance company may need documentation to prove your injuries and losses. If you need assistance taking the necessary steps toward compensation, hire an attorney to take care of your casework for you.
How Does a Hit-and-Run Affect Your Insurance?
Since New Mexico is a fault insurance state, only an at-fault car accident will negatively impact your auto insurance. If you were not at fault for your hit-and-run accident, it will not affect your insurance. Your premium will not increase as a result of filing a hit-and-run claim, as long as you can provide a police report.
However, you may have to pay a deductible to receive payment for your medical bills and property damages. Hit-and-runs are the only accident type where you will still have to pay a collision deductible, even though you were not at fault (in most cases). You will only have to pay a deductible on vehicle repairs, since no other insurance company is available to pay off the debt. The rules will vary according to your insurance company.
Insurance Requirements for New Mexico Drivers
In New Mexico, someone who is at fault for causing an accident is required to compensate those who are hurt. The minimum coverage that a licensed driver is required to carry is $25,000 for injury or death to a single person, or $50,000 for all injuries arising out of a single accident. Often, the minimum coverage is insufficient to cover catastrophic injuries.
One in four New Mexico drivers is uninsured. As the victim of a hit and run driver, you may have to make a claim against your own uninsured or underinsured motorist policy. Uninsured motorist coverage requires your own insurer to pay you damages that you would have received from an at-fault driver if he or she had carried the liability insurance that he or she was required to carry by law. In addition to property damage, an uninsured motorist provision usually covers personal injury and wrongful death damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent injury damages. You may even be able to recover punitive damages from your uninsured motorist coverage in the case of a hit and run driver.
In New Mexico, uninsured motorist coverage must provide an exclusion of $250 or less of property losses. You have the right to reject uninsured motorist coverage in writing. However, due to the frequency of serious hit and run motorist accidents, it is unwise to waive this type of coverage.
Discuss Your Hit-and-Run Accident Claim with an Attorney
People who have been hurt in a hit-and-run may experience some despair about the mounting medical bills and time missed from work. At the Fine Law Firm, our experienced Albuquerque personal injury lawyers understand the options available to injured Albuquerque residents. We can help you sue the driver, if he or she is found, or make a claim against your uninsured motorist policy when appropriate. Contact us via our online form or call us at (505) 243-4541 to set up an appointment at no cost to you. The Fine Law Firm also represents accident victims in Rio Rancho and elsewhere in New Mexico.