Imagine you are in a grocery store parking lot searching for a spot. It's a busy Saturday and the lot is crowded with pedestrians and other cars circling for an open parking space. As you round the corner you see a car leaving and you stop and signal to let others know you plan on taking that spot. Suddenly you hear screeching tires and get jolted forward several feet. You've been rear-ended. As you prepare to exit your car and exchange information with the other driver, you see the driver backing up! Quick as flash, the other car takes off, leaving you a neck ache and a car with crumpled back end. You've been the victim of a hit and run.
A hit and run occurs when a person driving a car causes an accident and then leaves the scene without identifying themselves or rendering aid. This is a crime in every state. The crime may be categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the state. If you can find the person responsible, you can not only press criminal charges, but may also bring a civil lawsuit as well.
Hit and Run Personal Injury Claims In Maryland
Lawsuits for hit and run accidents, like other car accidents, are based in negligence. In Maryland, in order to recover in negligence, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff to use reasonable care, the defendant breached that duty, the plaintiff was harmed, and the defendant's breach was the cause of plaintiff's harm. Rosenblatt v. Exxon, 335 Md. 58, 76 (1994).
If you are ever in a hit and run accident it is a good idea to attempt to record as much information as you can from the scene of the accident:
- If you are able try and record the make, model, color, and license plate number of the car that hit you.
- Talk to and get contact information from witnesses at the scene.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and your car
- File a police report
Unfortunately if you or a loved one have been the victim of a hit and run accident your legal remedies may be limited if you cannot find the driver responsible. Because you cannot file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or a claim with the insurance company of the motorist who hit you, you will likely be looking at filing a claim with your own insurance company instead. If you have uninsured motorist insurance you may be able to use that coverage to pay for medical expenses and damages to your car. Contact your insurance company to learn what coverage your car insurance includes.