The level of hit and run accidents in Los Angeles has now reached epidemic proportions according to various reports.( http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/10/hit-and-run-crashes-los-angeles/3452699/ ).
The statistics are frightening:
- Over 20,000 hit and run incidents in the City of Los Angeles every year.
- 4,000 or more of these result in injury or death to drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, joggers and skateboarders
- By some estimates, the City of L.A. has as many as 15-20% higher rates of hit and run accidents than many other major U.S. Cities
This has led many to dub the City of Angels, “ground zero for hit and run” accidents. As a personal injury lawyer that practices in L.A., I thought I would provide some legal advice to all Angelenos on how to protect themselves from the damage that is caused by these horrific incidents. The main legal and risk management protection that anyone can prepare for is to make sure that you have uninsured motorist coverage in their auto insurance policy and know what is legally required to incept coverage in a hit and run scenario. The provisions of CA law that protect victims of hit and run incidents from bearing the financial burden of medical expenses, property damage and other financial losses as well as pain and suffering really lie in the insurance code provisions on incidents caused by drivers who have not shown “financial responsibility” by having auto insurance coverage.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage is Automatic Unless Waived in Writing: Every policy of insurance written in the State of California has uninsured motorist coverage at the same level of coverage as personal injury protection unless expressly waived by the insured.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage Covers Hit and Run Accidents: Uninsured motorist coverage will cover any hit and run accident including being struck as a motorist, bicyclist or pedestrian so long as certain conditions are met as follows:
- Physical contact between the vehicle that hit and ran
- Prompt report of the incident to the police and the request of a report
- Prompt report of the incident to your automobile insurance company
What this means is that every motor vehicle operator in the State of California including Los Angeles residents can protect themselves by doing the following:
- Never waive uninsured motorist coverage in their auto policy
- Always try to maintain as high a limit as you can afford for bodily injury and property damage
- Always report hit and run incidents to the police and request that a police report be made
- PROMPTLY report this to your auto insurance company
- Even though uninsured motorist claims are being filed against your own insurance company, retain an attorney to be your advocate to ensure that you obtain full and complete and maximum compensation
If you are unfortunate to be involved with a careless driver who strikes you or your vehicle and then takes off without providing any information, don’t become a victim. Don’t be stuck with present and future medical expenses, or fail to be compensated for the physical pain and emotional toll this type of event can take on your life. Get professional legal help and don’t delay! These are my “words of wisdom” for this terrible epidemic of irresponsibility!
For more information on uninsured motorist claims in California, click here.
For general information about car accident claims filing in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, click here.
For more information on bicycle hit and run claims in CA, click here.