Do I Need an Auto Accident Lawyer After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Michigan?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can be extremely distressing. An attorney can help you attain compensation for your losses so you can focus on your recovery. Hire a lawyer in Michigan who is familiar with the state laws regarding auto accident and personal injuries cases.
What is Hit-and-Run?
A hit-and-run accident is defined as an accident involving a motor vehicle that causes damage to a person, vehicle, animal, or other person property, and the at-fault driver leaves the scene without:
- Stopping at the scene
- Giving their name, address, and car registration number to anyone involved in the accident and the police
- Showing anyone involved in the accident and the police their drivers license
- Helping to obtain medical assistance for anyone injured in the accident
These legal requirements are enshrined in Michigan Law and set out in MCL 257.617(1) and MCL 257.619(a)(b) and (c). The penalties for failing to comply with these requirements are severe. The hit-and-run driver faces a term of imprisonment of up to 15 years, a fine up to $10,000, and a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor.
It is perhaps difficult to understand why anyone would take this risk and flee the scene. There are several reasons for this behavior such as:
- Driving while alcohol or drug-impaired
- Driving without insurance
- Driving a stolen vehicle
- Driving without a license or while disqualified
What Steps Should I Take After the Accident?
The steps you take immediately after the hit-and-run accident will have a significant influence on the outcome of your personal injury lawsuit.
Gathering evidence is crucial to the success of your claim. It is incumbent on you and your lawyers to prove the at-fault driver’s negligence caused the accident. You also have to prove you were injured as a result of this negligence.
Any evidence that can be obtained from the authorities, such as a police report, is valuable to proving the negligent driver is at-fault. This evidence is seen as independent, and the court gives it considerable weight. Similarly, any evidence of your injuries, such as past medical bills, can help prove the severity of the accident.
Photographs and CCTV footage are very helpful if they are available. Independent witnesses are also useful. The court prefers their version of events to either your unsubstantiated account or that of the at-fault driver.
If there are any witnesses at the scene, it is vital to speak to them. Collect their names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Your lawyer can arrange to take statements at a later date.
Seek urgent medical care
You should get medical care immediately following the accident, so there is a record of your injuries from the date of the crash. If the paramedics attend the accident scene, tell them about all your injuries and symptoms, so everything you’re experiencing appears in your records.
See your family doctor
Even if you receive urgent care after the accident, you should still attend an appointment with your family doctor regarding your injuries. Your primary care provider has your complete medical history on file and can provide ongoing assessments of your condition and treatment recommendations.
They can recognize the early signs of new conditions and commence treatment before they become debilitating and serious. These kinds of injuries can include:
- Injuries to the spine and neck can manifest themselves sometime after the accident
- Concussion or traumatic brain injury
- Knee and shoulder injuries may be slow to manifest themselves
- Mental and emotional trauma such as PTSD may take time to show itself
If you refuse treatment at the scene, the insurance company uses this to cast doubt on the seriousness of your injury. They may also seek to reduce the value of your claim if you delay seeing your doctor or fail to attend therapy sessions or follow-up appointments.
Get legal help
You need an accident attorney who can guide you through the no-fault auto insurance laws to get you the compensation you are entitled to and evaluate and pursue your claim against the at-fault driver.
Under the no-fault laws in Michigan, you are entitled to personal injury protection (PIP). In some cases, this may cover your losses. However, your insurance company may not inform you about all the benefits you are entitled to under the policy. An experienced auto accident lawyer familiar with these policies can make sure you receive all the benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.
What Can an Accident Lawyer Do for You Following a Hit-and-Run?
Hit-and-run accident cases are complex because there may be several agencies and insurance companies involved. You will need someone by your side to guide you through the challenging and sometimes bewildering process. An auto accident lawyer can take the following action for you:
If your injuries are serious and you need compensation for pain and suffering and excess medical benefits, the compensation you receive depends on whether you have uninsured motorist coverage (UM coverage). When a motorist flees the scene, they are treated as uninsured. If you have this form of coverage, you must give the requisite notice to your insurer.
If you have UM coverage and comply with all the terms of the policy, you can recover compensation just as you would against an at-fault driver.
If you don’t have UM coverage, you must attempt to track down the hit-and-run driver and file a lawsuit against them. An attorney can help you with this process.
Negotiate a fair settlement
The insurance company and its representatives want to settle for the smallest sum possible. They might try to speak to you without your legal representative present so they can make a lowball offer. A skilled attorney knows the value of your claim and can push for a settlement amount you deserve.
Represent you if your case goes to trial
If your case goes to trial, your attorney can represent you and present your case in the best possible way. They can file the necessary paperwork to avoid missing deadlines that could compromise your case. The courtroom skills they have acquired over the years can help you successfully take your case to trial.
Consult a Michigan Auto Accident Lawyer
Dealing with the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident is stressful and requires thorough knowledge of the Michigan legal system. You need the assistance of experienced counsel to help you collect all the benefits you are entitled to through PIP coverage.
Tracing the hit-and-run driver may be difficult and time-consuming. If you cannot locate the at-fault driver and your expenses exceed your PIP coverage, you could be out of pocket. An experienced auto accident lawyer knows the best ways to find a hit-and-run driver and obtain evidence to support your claim.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.