Hit and Run Accidents
A motorist involved in a vehicular accident is required to stop and assist injured persons. He should also provide his insurance information to the other driver. In hit and run accidents, the hit and run driver usually fails to stop because he is an uninsured motorist (UM) or his insurance is nullified by his tortious or criminal actions.
Most UM statutes require that hit and run coverage be provided in automobile policies. Even in the absence of such a statute, however, most insurers provide such coverage.
Proof of accident
There is always the potential for fraud when an insured seeks to recover under his policy for UM benefits arising from a hit and run accident. For example, the insured may have actually been involved in a one-car crash caused by his own negligence, yet he seeks to recover under the UM provision of his insurance policy. Therefore, statutes may require some corroboration of the accident, such as by evidence of damage to the vehicle, statements made by the insured to others regarding the accident, prompt notice of the accident to the police, and reasonable notice to the insurer (usually within 30 days). The burden of proving that the accident involved a hit and run driver is upon the insured.
Requirement of contact
A statute or the insurance policy may require that hit and run coverage only applies to situations where physical contact has occurred in order to reduce the potential for fraudulent claims. Some jurisdictions hold such contact provisions to be valid, while other jurisdictions do not. In addition, some jurisdictions require that the contact come from the offending vehicle, while others permit indirect contact. Such indirect contact may include situations where the contact comes from a different vehicle forced by the offending vehicle to collide with the insured’s vehicle, where the offending vehicle forces the insured’s vehicle off the road, where an object protruding from the offending vehicle comes in contact with the insured’s vehicle, or where the offending vehicle causes an object (e.g., a rock) to strike the insured’s vehicle.
Even if a statute or the insurance policy does require contact, the insured may not have to prove contact if he can establish either the identity of the hit and run driver or that the offending vehicle was uninsured.