Hit-and-run accidents can leave victims at a loss. One of the most important steps in recovering compensation after an accident is identifying the liable party. If the driver who caused the collision flees the scene, pursuing fair compensation becomes a very difficult task.
At the Morelli Law Firm, our team of hit-and-run accident attorneys in Newark have extensive experience dealing with hit-and-run accident cases. We know the difficulties that accompany these cases and what it takes to get our clients the money they need and deserve.
Proving Liability After a Hit-and-Run
Proving liability in any accident can be challenging. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident, this process becomes far more complicated. Even if you can prove that another driver was responsible for your accident if you are unable to identify who the other driver was, recovering compensation from them becomes impossible.
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New Jersey Is a No-Fault State
New Jersey is one of a handful of states that operate on a no-fault accident system. Under this system, drivers are expected to recover compensation from their own insurance company after an accident rather than pursuing damages from the other driver or their insurance. The purpose behind these no-fault laws is to lighten the caseload that the courts have to process.
Because New Jersey is a no-fault state, in many cases, your compensation will not be affected by a hit-and-run accident. Like with other car accidents, you will be expected to pursue compensation from your own insurance company either way.
However, accident victims in New Jersey are allowed to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in cases where they have suffered serious injuries. Your insurance policy will only get you so far when it comes to paying for all the costs associated with your accident. In cases where this amount is exceeded, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
In these situations, identifying the responsible party is essential to getting the compensation that you deserve. Your Newark hit-and-run accident attorney can conduct an investigation to help locate the negligent driver and prove their liability.
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A Hit-and-Run Is a Crime
Drivers are required by law to stop and exchange insurance information after an accident. In many situations, you must also call the police to report the accident. You will have to wait for them to arrive to fill out a police report.
This is the case in any accident that involves an injury. In most states, you must also file a police report for accidents where nobody suffers harm if enough property damage occurs. The amount of damage varies from state to state.
Leaving the scene of an accident without meeting the above requirements is a crime. If someone gets injured in the crash and a driver leaves the scene, there is the potential for serious jail time and hefty fines. Even in cases that only involve property damage, a guilty driver could be looking at some harsh penalties.
How a Newark Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney Can Help
When involved in a hit-and-run accident, it is sometimes easy to identify the liable driver. Maybe you or another witness saw their license plate and wrote it down, or even better, got a picture. However, in many cases, identification is far more difficult. In these situations, a hit-and-run accident lawyer will work hard to identify the responsible party.
When you hire a car accident lawyer, one of the first steps they will take in any crash is to launch an independent investigation. Police reports and investigations are not conducted with civil litigation in mind. Instead, they are focused on criminal prosecution. A car accident attorney will approach their inquiry with the aim of getting fair compensation for their client.
Your hit-and-run accident attorney in Newark from Morelli Law Firm will attempt to identify the guilty party by any surveillance or traffic camera footage that may show the accident or the liable party driving away from the scene.
They will also talk to witnesses to see if anyone can give helpful information about the vehicle and driver. In this day and age, there is a fair chance that someone got useful footage on a cell phone.
When the Driver Is Identified
When your damages are significant enough to make you eligible for filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, and they are identified, your attorney will evaluate the total value of your claim. They will then file the appropriate paperwork with the court and go through all the steps of the pre-trial process.
All the while, they will be in contact with the counsel for the defendant, attempting to negotiate a fair settlement deal. If a deal can not be reached, they will represent your interests in court.
When the Driver Can Not Be Identified
If the driver manages to remain anonymous despite investigations by the police and your attorney, your only option for compensation is to file a claim with your own insurance. Unfortunately, even this is not always an easy task. Insurance companies hate to pay damages. As a result, they will likely do everything within their power to deny your claim.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help ensure that the insurance company pays you the full value of your claim.
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Damages You May Be Eligible to Claim
There are various damages for which you may be able to recover compensation after a hit-and-run accident. Exactly what you will be eligible to claim depends upon the specifics of your case. Generally, damages are grouped into three categories.
Economic damages cover everything that has a direct financial cost. Typical economic damages include:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Future medical costs
- Property damage
All these damages have a direct amount of money associated with them. This amount can be tricky to calculate for things like lost earning capacity. However, there are still formulas that help assign a fairly accurate number to these losses. The amount victims receive for economic damages is meant to directly offset the amount they have lost and will lose in the future.
Non-economic damages cover all the things that are not as easy to appraise. Common non-economic damages include:
- Permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Mental anguish
Attempting to quantify these damages is fairly impossible as they are not financial losses but rather losses to a person’s quality of life. As a result, non-economic damages typically make up the largest portion of a compensation claim.
Punitive damages are only awarded in special cases. Unlike the damages above, they are not supposed to compensate the accident victim for a loss they have suffered. Instead, the purpose is to punish the at-fault party. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the actions of the liable driver are deemed to have been grossly negligent or carried out with criminal intent.
Punitive damages are awarded at a higher rate in hit-and-run accidents than in accidents in general.
Hiring a Newark Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney
Hiring an experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer will give you the best chance at recovering fair compensation for your injuries. At the Morelli Law Firm, we know how devastating a car accident can be. We have a proven track record of getting favorable results for our clients.
Give us a call today or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with a member of our team. Our Newark hit-and-run accident lawyers will go over your case and advise you of all your legal options. Don’t miss out on your chance at getting the money you deserve after an accident.