In Michigan, it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident. Penalties may include fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension.
A driver involved in a car crash must stop, provide relevant information, show their driver’s license, and assist in securing medical aid. MCL 257.617, MCL 257.617a, MCL 257.618, and MCL 257.619.
Notice to Your Auto Insurance Company
Most auto insurance policies require a crash victim to (1) notify their auto insurance company they were involved in a crash and (2) provide information related to the crash, such as when and where the crash occurred.
In the event of a hit-and-run crash, most auto insurance policies also require a crash victim to (3) report the accident to the police within 24 hours of the crash, or shortly thereafter, and (4) to report the crash to the insurance company within a certain number of days after the crash. These time-sensitive notice requirements are important because, if they are not met, the insurance company can deny payment of insurance benefits.
If you have questions about the notice requirements on your auto insurance policy, contact Conybeare Law Office now. We can review your policy and help you make sure you meet your contract requirements.
Legal Claims Available to Michigan Hit-And-Run Crash Victims
Bodily Injury Claims
A Michigan hit-and-run crash victim usually has legal claims against the owner and operator of the vehicle that hit them.
To pursue these claims, the driver and owner must be identified. Surveillance video from surrounding businesses and homes can sometimes be used to identify them. Timing is critical here because surveillance video is not typically preserved for long. For that reason, it is important to act quickly to preserve this evidence. This may include contacting nearby businesses and homeowners and/or sending letters requesting preservation of evidence.
Unfortunately, many hit-and-run drivers flee crash scenes because they do not have auto insurance, as required by law. However, even under these circumstances, hit-and-run victims usually have one or more legal claims available to them, including uninsured motorist benefits and/or Michigan No-Fault benefits.
Uninsured Motorist Benefit Claims
“Uninsured motorist coverage” is optional coverage that a Michigan motorist can buy to protect themselves in case the driver who hit them was uninsured. Uninsured coverage is not required by law, it is optional. For that reason, not every motorist has it.
For those who do, uninsured coverage requires a crash victim’s auto insurance company to pay for damages the crash victim is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of the uninsured motor vehicle who hit them. In Michigan, this often means a crash victim can recover pain and suffering damages from their insurance company. But that’s not all. Depending on the circumstances, a crash victim may be able to recover other damages as well, such as medical bills and wage loss.
A crash victim can determine whether they had uninsured motorist coverage by (1) reviewing the first couple pages of their auto insurance policy where it lists the coverages available under the policy, (2) by contacting their insurance agent, or (3) by contacting Conybeare Law Office to discuss the terms of their auto insurance policy.
Michigan No-Fault Claims
Michigan has a unique auto insurance system. It is called the Michigan No-Fault system. It is referred to as a “no-fault” system because, in general, a car crash victim goes to their own auto insurance company for payment of their medical bills, wage loss, and other benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the crash.
This law often benefits hit-and-run victims because they have a path for recovering their medical bills and wage loss despite the at-fault driver fleeing the scene.
The Michigan No-Fault system offers many benefits to crash victims, but it can be confusing, especially when it comes to identifying which insurance company is responsible for paying the crash victim’s no-fault benefits. It is typically a crash victim’s own insurance, but not always, and the consequences of getting this wrong are significant: a crash victim must submit notice of a claim for Michigan No-Fault benefits to the correct auto insurance company within a year of the crash or they lose out on the ability to receive Michigan No-Fault benefits, forever.
A hit-and-run victim should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether their auto insurance company, or another auto insurance company, owes them Michigan No-Fault benefits. Conybeare Law Office can help you make sure the correct insurance company is notified and that you are receiving all available benefits.
Call or Contact Conybeare Law Office Now
A car accident is a scary, painful, and traumatic experience, even more so when the at-fault driver flees the scene. It can be difficult to know who to talk to after a crash, but having an experienced Michigan car accident attorney can help alleviate much of the stress and uncertainty that comes after an accident. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Conybeare Law Office will help you understand your rights so you’re in control, and they will fight to get you the money you deserve.
To learn more about the wide range of legal services offered to our Michigan car accident clients, talk to our office today. Conybeare Law Office has offices in Saint Joseph and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and proudly serves all of southwest Michigan and beyond. Call or contact us for a free consultation. We look forward to talking to you.