Hit and Runs Increase: How to Protect Yourself
If it seems like you’ve seen more and more hit and runs in the news lately, it’s because you have. USA Today reported that hit and runs are on the increase in the U.S., citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which shows that fatal hit and run accidents are trending upward. In 2009, 1,274 hit and runs were reported. In 2010, there were 1,393 and in 2011, the most recent year statistics were releases, 1,449 were reported.
This 13.7% increase comes at a time where overall traffic accidents are on the decrease – from 33,883 in 2009 to 32,367 in 2011. Even more alarming, Living Safer Magazine reports that one in five pedestrians killed on America’s roadways are the victim of a hit-and-run. So why the increase? One reason is the increasing number of uninsured motorists. These drivers have a tendency to flee a scene. According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), approximately 1 in 8 drivers are uninsured.
Another reason for the increase is the fear of increasingly strict DUI penalties. A study from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that alcohol played a role in 60% off of pedestrian hit-and-run fatalities.
If you fall victim to a hit and run, there are 5 crucial things you should do:
1.) Call the police. Regardless of the amount of damage or injury, it’s important to call the police. They will assess the situation and write an accident report.
2.) Assess your medical condition. Are you injured? If you are able to do so, call 911 on your phone or try to attract the attention of the drivers around you to help.
3.) Write down the details. If you’re injured, have someone else do it for you. Write down the color of the car, any license plate number or letters you can recall and any details about the driver.
4.) Ask for the names and addresses of any witnesses. They may be able to help you with any details of the car or driver
5.) Call your insurance company. If the hit and run driver can’t be found, you may be entitled to coverage.
If the police are able to find the person who hit you, you should be able to retrieve their insurance information and file a claim. If you’re unable to find the person who hit you, you can make a claim with your own insurance company. They will owe you a duty of good faith and fair dealing in working with you on your loss. Although you’re not entitled to a jury trial, you are entitled to arbitrate any disputes, which is a relatively fast and inexpensive process.
If a driver is underinsured and unable to cover all damage, you will be much better off if you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
If you do not have underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance, call and check with your insurance company to see how much it would cost to add. The benefits far outweigh the potential financial damage that can be sustained. With hit-and-runs on the rise, acting preemptively to protect yourself is the best thing you can do.
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