Being injured in a hit and run accident in New York is terrifying, especially if it might feel as if you’ll need to track down the responsible individual to cover the personal injury damages. Although New York is a “no-fault” accident state, meaning that the insurance company will pay cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and passengers up to $50,000.00 for the legitimate economic losses, victims of a hit and run driver may be eligible for punitive damages.
In hit and run accident cases, there are many elements to consider, such as finding the driver responsible for the crash and, if applicable, dealing with an uninsured or underinsured driver. For these reasons, among others, you should consider calling the NYC car accident lawyers at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier. No matter if you were driving, riding a bicycle, or simply walking down the street, it’s important to hold negligent and unlawful drivers accountable for their actions. Call our personal injury law firm in Manhattan today at (212) 777-9400.
Hit and Run Accidents Law in NYC
Leaving the scene of an accident in New York without reporting it is a crime in New York. According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 600 (leaving scene of an incident without reporting), “failure of an operator to exhibit his or her license and insurance identification card for the vehicle or exchange the information required in such paragraph shall constitute a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty nor more than five hundred dollars in addition to any other penalties provided by law.” This law only applies if personal injury occurred; if there is only property damage, the offender may be looking at an infraction and a fine.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a Class B Misdemeanor for a first offense. If serious personal injury or death was involved, then the driver could be looking at Class E or Class D felony.
While it’s difficult to determine a driver’s specific motive for failing to stop, common reasons include:
- Being intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Not having insurance
- Being in possession of an illegal substance or object
- Having prior infractions
Civil Liability and Compensation in NYC Hit and Run Accidents
In addition to being a crime, a driver who left the scene of an accident may be liable to civil damages. Victims of a hit and run accident should understand that they may have the right to obtain financial compensation for their losses. However, because New York is a no-fault insurance state, victims need to make sure that their own insurance policy provides for uninsured motorist coverage. If damages are less than $50,000, which can include medical expenses, loss of wages, and more, then your own insurance policy may cover it.
Article 51 of the Insurance Law has a serious injury threshold. The victim of a hit and run may bring a personal injury lawsuit if he/she incurred a basic economic loss exceeding $50,000 or must establish that he/she has suffered “serious injury.” Insurance Law § 5104(a), (b) defines serious injury as:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.
Also, the offender may be liable for punitive damages, which are financial damages designed to punish the offender. Punitive damages are generally available when the offender intentionally or recklessly caused harm, or acted in a particularly egregious manner.
Who is Liable in a Hit and Run Accident
Unfortunately, victims of a hit and run may have to turn to, and collect from, their own insurance companies. Unless the offending driver is found or, at the very least, identified through video surveillance, witnesses, etc, then there is no way to hold the offending driver accountable for his/her actions.
Remember, if you are injured in a hit and run, you can make a no-fault claim with your own insurer.
Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier
Whether the insurance provider denied your claim in bad faith or you need an experienced attorney to provide counsel and representation for a serious injury lawsuit, then call the New York injury attorneys at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier. We provide diligent and professional representation to optimize your chances of winning your case and getting you the benefits you deserve. For a free consultation with your local team of NYC personal injury lawyers, call our Manhattan office today at (212) 777-9400.