In some hit and run accident situations in Delaware, the at-fault driver will actually be located. Earlier this year, a pedestrian in Newark was killed by an alleged hit and run driver who was later found and charged with DUI.
In other situations, the driver will never be located. This is especially true for hit and run accidents which occur late at night, when there are no eyewitnesses. For instance, a woman walking across the street in Wilmington is hit by a car. It is past midnight. The driver never stops. Because there were no witnesses, the driver is never found.
In either of these situations, injured individuals may find themselves out of luck if they declined underinsured (UIM) and uninsured (UM) motorist coverage. UIM/UM coverage kicks in to provide a source of much-needed financial coverage in hit and run auto accident situations. This coverage is available to those covered under the policy. Basically, when you need UIM/UM benefits, you make a claim with your own insurance company.
A Brief Explanation of UIM/UM Coverage in Delaware
Under Delaware auto insurance laws, car insurance companies are required to offer UIM/UM coverage. In other words, UIM/UM coverage is not mandatory, and unfortunately, many Delaware residents opt out of UIM/UM coverage. Those that opt in often select minimum limits, i.e., $15,000 per person, with a maximum of $30,000 per accident. This is the minimum amount of coverage legally required under DE law for bodily injury liability limits, which is often not enough in hit and run accident situations. Some individuals purchase higher bodily injury liability and UIM/UM limits, such as $100,000/$300,000. Read more about UIM/UM coverage in Delaware.
Hit & Run Accident – UIM Claim
In a hit and run auto accident scenario when the driver is located, underinsured coverage often comes into play. That’s because hit and run accidents often result in serious injuries or fatalities. In serious injury or death situations, there may be multiple sources of coverage. An at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy is the first source of coverage, and oftentimes, the limits are minimal ($15,000). Therefore, in a hit and run case, an injured individual would file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and recover the maximum amount possible under that driver’s auto insurance policy. A second source of coverage is the injured individual’s UIM policy. The individual would file a UIM claim with their own car insurance company. Here’s an example to show how this works.
An individual sustains critical injuries in a hit and run accident. The driver is located and has minimum coverage ($15,000). Fortunately, the injured individual has UIM coverage in the amount of $100,000. The injured individual files a lawsuit against the driver and also notifies her insurance company that she will be making a UIM claim. She settles her claim against the at-fault driver for the full amount of his policy, $15,000. Then she proceeds with her UIM claim. Legally, she can make a claim to receive up to $100,000 under her UIM claim. How much she receives depends on the nature and extent of her injuries, financial losses, pain and suffering damages, etc.
Stay tuned for an article discussing Delaware UM (uninsured) motorist coverage in the context of a hit and run auto accident.
Delaware UIM/UM Auto Injury Attorney
Contact our Delaware auto injury lawyers for more information. Our lawyers have over 30 years of experience handling auto accident cases including UIM/UM claims.
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