October 21, 2009
By: John Maxwell
What do you do if you suffer injuries in a car accident caused by a hit and run driver?
What if your injuries are caused by a "hit and miss," when a driver whose vehicle does not actually strike your vehicle, but whose negligent or reckless operation causes you to take evasive action which result in you striking an object or another vehicle which causes you personal injuries?
The answer lies in the uninsured motorist provisions of your automobile liability insurance policy. Under this portion of your automobile policy, you are protected against injuries caused by such a negligent hit and run or negligent miss and run driver. Under the terms of your policy, you would be entitled to bring a claim against your own automobile insurance company for monetary damages to compensate you for the injuries caused by the evading operator and vehicle.
To recover these damages, an actual collision with the evading vehicle is not required. For example, let us assume you are proceeding on a public highway when you are suddenly cut off by another vehicle and in the process of taking evasive action to avoid a collision with that vehicle, your vehicle leaves the highway and strikes a tree, causing you to sustain personal injuries. In that event, and assuming that the evading vehicle was never identified or caught by the police, you would be entitled to file a claim for damages for the injuries you received under the provisions of your own automobile liability insurance. Recently, one of our Superior Courts has ruled that if the insurance company refuses to pay a "hit and miss" claim in bad faith, they may be liable under our Connecticut Unfair Trade Practice Act. The insurance company might be liable to you for monetary damages over and above those necessary to compensate you for your injuries, including attorneys fees if you are forced to bring suit.
Keep in mind that your recovery is limited by the amount of your automobile insurance policy liability limits. While the statutory minimums of $20,000.00 per person and $40,000.00 per accident are sufficient to enable you to register your motor vehicle, in many cases those minimum amounts are not sufficient to adequately compensate you for serious physical injuries that may involve broken bones or require surgical intervention and hospitalization, as well as lost time from work. You should review your automobile liability insurance declaration page to ascertain the limits of your coverage and if you have only those statutory minimums, speak with your insurance agent about increasing the limits of your liability coverage and corresponding uninsured motorist protection.
John Maxwell and the other lawyers in Brown Paindiris & Scott's personal injury department have handled many Connecticut car accident claims in Hartford and surrounding towns. They are experienced with uninsured and underinsured automobile injury claims, and are happy to meet with clients in the firm's Hartford, Glastonbury, East Hampton and Bristol law offices.