Chicago is a dangerous place when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. With bumper-to-bumper traffic, bicyclists swerving in and out of lanes, and pedestrians crossing busy intersections, it is understandable that these sorts of accidents would be common. But in the last couple of years, the rate of hit-and-run accidents has skyrocketed, leaving hundreds of thousands of victims injured or their families devastated with the loss of a loved one. Too often, the perpetrator who did the crime gets away with it.
So, a question remains: What can you do if you are ever involved in a hit-and-run accident? How can you secure compensation not only for the damages you experienced, but for your pain and suffering as well? Will your insurance cover this type of accident? Let the experts at Gainsberg Law answer these questions for you.
What is a hit and run accident?
When someone is involved in a car accident, and the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident flees the scene without stopping to check on the victim or wait for authorities to arrive, it’s called a hit and run. Each state classifies hit and run accidents differently based on varying elements. The laws that apply to hit-and-run accidents are different as well. Hit-and-run accidents can happen between two vehicles, a vehicle and a pedestrian, or a vehicle and property (such as your mailbox).
While in Illinois, leaving the scene of an accident where injuries are involved is a Class 4 felony, other states may vary. Most states do have laws that dictate what a driver needs to do after an accident, and if a driver breaks those laws, he or she can be held accountable for the hit and run accident.
Hit and run accidents are not victimless crimes. Drivers who commit hit and runs can cause serious injuries or fatalities, and substantial property damage.
An investigation done by NBC showed that in 2021 hit-and-run accidents skyrocketed. In Chicago alone, that year saw “36,305 hit-and-run crashes, an average of nearly 100 each day and an 18.3% increase over the 30,695 that occurred the year before, according to the city’s data. A total of 32,135 hit-and-runs occurred in the previous 12 months, with 31,401 recorded in the year before that.”
What injuries are common in a hit-and-run accident in Chicago?
Hit-and-run accidents can be incredibly injurious, especially if you are a pedestrian that is hit by a car. In any case, whether you are in a car or not, the injuries you can suffer include:
Not only can a person sustain physical injuries from a hit-and-run, but mental and financial damages as well. The experience may leave the victim with PTSD, or with cognitive and emotional issues from suffering head trauma. The victim has to pay for their medical bills, the cost of the damage done to their property, and any wages they may have lost due to the accident.
Thankfully, in Illinois, drivers are required to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. These are put in place to help victims if they are ever in a hit-and-run accident.
What is uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage?
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, in order for you to receive compensation and coverage for the accident, you need to have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. In Illinois UM bodily injury coverage is mandatory in every liability policy. If you have auto insurance, you will have UM coverage. UIM coverage is optional if you purchase more the Illinois’ mandatory minimal limits of $25,000.00 per person /$50,000.00 per accident. Gainsberg Law recommends that you purchase more coverage than Illinois’ minimal requirements and elect to purchase UIM coverage. The purpose of UIM coverage is to protect you and your passengers in case the at-fault party has only purchased minimal coverage.
In Illinois, UM coverage is required. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident where you cannot get the insurance information from the person who injured you, your UM coverage is meant to pay what the other driver’s insurance would have covered, up to the limits of your policy. That is why when getting UM/ coverage, you should choose a policy with good coverage.
Will my health insurance cover my medical expenses?
You may think that your health insurance will be enough to cover your bills should you get into a hit-and-run accident, but the truth is that health insurance only covers so much. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to bill health insurance since your health insurance carrier likely negotiates discounted rates with medical providers, specifically the emergency room providers. Jason Metz, former insurance professional, writes in Forbes that “UM is a way to cover car accident injuries without paying co-insurance, copays and health insurance deductibles. UM also provides benefits that health insurance won’t, like money for pain and suffering and lost wages.” Luckily, in Illinois, you can get the advantage of benefits from both health insurance and UM coverage. Therefore, you should utilize both coverages if you are in a collision with a hit and run driver.
How can a Chicago hit-and-run accident attorney help me?
While the driver who hit you may get away for the time being, they eventually may be caught, and then you can hold them responsible by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. If that does not work the way you want it to, you may pursue filing a lawsuit against the driver, obtaining money from their liability insurance. Per Metz, “Then you would file a claim with your own car insurance company under your underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI) to cover additional expenses.”
At Gainsberg Law, our experienced legal team provides experienced and accessible representation for hit-and-run victims throughout Illinois. We have spent years assisting the residents of Chicago and Cook County. For an initial consultation, call us at 312-600-9585 or use our contact page.
Neal S. Gainsberg has spent the last 20 years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. From consumer rights and bankruptcy to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, Mr. Gainsberg stands up to large corporations, insurance companies, creditors and hospital administrators to ensure that his clients’ futures are safe and secure. Learn More