In some ways, hit and run accidents are unique from other car accidents, and in some ways they are exactly the same. They are distinct in that the party who was at fault for the accident is not a named defendant to the civil suit that results. Instead, in order for the victim to be compensated, he must go through his own insurance company under his plan’s Uninsured Motorist coverage.
Many uninsured motorist claims are settled without the need for litigation. However, those cases which cannot be settled must be litigated. For many years in Pennsylvania, the way that an uninsured motorist claim which could not be settled was resolved in a streamlined litigation process. If the plaintiff’s attorney could not resolve the matter with the insurance company he would demand “uninsured arbitration”. This was a streamlined and speedy way to get the case heard and decided by a panel of three arbitrators. The three arbitrators were chosen in a very specific manner: each party selected one arbitrator and then the two parties agreed on a third, neutral arbitrator. However, this changed in 2005 when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that insurance companies are no longer required to arbitrate these claims. Now, these claims may actually go to trial where the victim/insured party is the plaintiff in a civil suit against his own insurance company.
Although we all want to believe that our insurance company is on our side and is advocating for our best interests in handling our claim, this is simply not the case. In a hit and run accident claim, our insurance company has become our opponent in the civil action and their intent is to settle the claim for the least amount possible. Remember, the insurance company, like any other defendant in a civil case, is concerned with protecting their own financial interests. Since your insurance company is no longer your advocate in an uninsured motorist case, you should seek help from experienced legal counsel. Uninsured Motorists cases must be handled with care because once you make a claim, your insurance company must evaluate your claim as they would any claim for personal injuries regardless of your status as their customer.
If you are the victim of a “hit and run” accident, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible after the accident because you will still have to prove your case. You will need an experienced attorney to represent you in proving damages, just as you would in a typical two-party accident. If you are injured in a hit and run auto accident in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia counties, then you need John Winicov, an experienced personal injury attorney. He will provide aggressive representation and handle your case with the care it deserves.