Hit-and-run accidents embody two forms of negligence. A driver who hits another person, motorist, or party can be accused of roadway distraction in civil court. A driver who abandons the scene of an accident commits a criminal act.
If you witness a hit-and-run in New Jersey, you are obligated to report it to the police. Your report can help the victim of a hit-and-run later recover damages meant to compensate for another driver’s reckless behavior.
Take Steps to Report a New Jersey Hit-and-Run
If you’re unsure how to report a New Jersey hit-and-run, don’t worry – there are concrete steps you can take. Whether you’re the victim of an accident or witness to one, you can:
Stay on the Scene
It may be tempting to give chase to someone who caused a hit-and-run accident. This, however, can be a bad idea. The person responsible for the hit-and-run may be volatile and dangerous to interact with. Similarly, giving chase may open you up to criminal or civil charges, depending on the nature of your pursuit.
Instead, stay at the scene of the hit-and-run. You can work with other bystanders to ensure the victim is safe. Alternatively, you can take pictures of the fleeing car for later use.
Contact Law Enforcement and Medical Help
It’s instinctive, in the face of an emergency, to call the police. That is your best course of action when witnessing a hit-and-run. The sooner officers can get on the scene, the sooner trained professionals can pursue a negligent driver.
Similarly, this call may let you get an injured party the medical care they need. Dispatchers can send an ambulance and other professionals to the site of your accident as soon as they know something’s amiss.
Encourage the Victim to Contact a Lawyer and Their Insurance Provider
Recovering from a hit-and-run accident is an exercise in practicality. Unfortunately, the trauma of the experience may make it difficult for a victim to remember how to protect themselves from harm.
With that in mind, you can remind hit-and-run victims that they are entitled to representation from a lawyer. Contacting a lawyer doesn’t mean that you’re guilty of misconduct. Rather, attorneys can stand with you and prevent law enforcement from misinterpreting your accident-based losses.
Hit-and-run victims should also contact their insurance providers within 24 hours of an accident. Victims with uninsured motorist coverage can file claims for compensation based on their property damage and medical expenses.
Hit-and-Run Victims Benefit From Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is meant to help drivers throughout New Jersey defend themselves against someone else’s negligence. If a victim isn’t able to identify the driver who hit them in a hit-and-run accident, they can still rely on this coverage to help protect them from property damage and medical expenses related to their accident.
That said, most insurers will take as many steps as possible to limit the compensation that a hit-and-run victim receives for their loss. This is where an attorney can come into play. Attorneys addressing car accidents can help victims express the full extent of their losses to an insurance provider.
These attorneys can also push back against low settlement offers or attempts to “ghost” a hit-and-run victim. All the while, our team can investigate the scene of your accident for evidence of negligence. If we find the party who caused your accident, we can subsequently hold them accountable for your losses in civil court.
Hit-and-Run Victims Can Fight for Additional Compensation in Civil Court
Victims of hit-and-run accidents in New Jersey may be entitled to additional compensation for their losses if they pursue a case in civil court. This right hinges on the ability of law enforcement and/or an attending attorney to identify the party allegedly liable for a person’s hit-and-run losses.
To take civil action against the person liable for a hit-and-run, interested parties must file a civil complaint within New Jersey’s personal injury statute of limitations, N.J. Stat. §2A:14-2. These parties can proceed with their complaint so long as a county clerk approves their request for financial support.
Claims can then allow an injured individual to request compensation via negotiations or a civil trial. Interested parties can consult with personal injury attorneys to determine which of these options may help them secure the most compensation for their losses.
The Benefits of Requesting Compensation After a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you’re insured at the time you experience a hit-and-run accident, your insurance provider should offer you some compensation based on the value of your losses. There’s a chance, however, that said compensation won’t be able to help you fully recover from your losses. If this is the case, you can pursue a civil suit for compensation, as well.
The compensation you can request in the face of a civil suit includes coverage for your economic and non-economic hit-and-run losses. This means you have the right to request that a liable party pay you for your:
- Accident-related medical expenses
- Property damage
- Loss of opportunities to work
- Decreased wages in the face of disability
- Long-term disability treatment
- Essential at-home assistance
We can also apply multipliers to your case to stand in for non-economic damages. Viable non-economic damages after a hit-and-run may include emotional distress as well as pain and suffering.
Contact an Attorney to Discuss Car Accident Legalities Today
Hit-and-runs are illegal throughout New Jersey. You have a duty to report any hit-and-runs you see for the sake of another person’s well-being. If you have questions about how to file a hit-and-run accident in New Jersey, our team can help you take action.
Morelli Law Firm is ready to discuss the intricacies of a civil car accident claim with you. To learn more, you can contact our office and request a case evaluation. We’re available to set a date for your consultation over the phone or through our website.