• A Question about Car Accident with a Hit and Run Driver

My car was hit by a drunk driver who fled the scene of the accident. He was caught later after his car stalled out. That driver was arrested for hit and run and for DWI. My girlfriend and I were both hurt and we both went to the hospital. The insurance company totaled my car. What are my rights? Can I sue the other driver? Can we get money for this case?

 Answer to this Car Accident Question

I am sorry to hear about your car accident and the injuries it has caused you and your girlfriend. You and your girlfriend may be eligible for three types of compensation:

It sounds as if you have already addressed the property loss of your car with your insurance company. I assume that by totaling your car, your insurance company has paid you full current value with your car. Since the other driver caused the accident, his insurance company should pay any deductibles for you.

Because your accident happened in New York, you and your girlfriend automatically qualify for New York No Fault benefits. No Fault will pay for up to $50,000 in medical expenses, lost wages and related expenses (e.g., taxi fare to the doctor). You receive No Fault coverage the through the insurance company for the car in which you rode. You must apply within 30 days of the accident.

You may be eligible for compensation beyond No Fault. The value of your car accident case depends on three factors:

  • The liability of the defendant: What percentage of liability will the defendant bear?
  • Probability of Threshold: What is the probability of meeting the serious injury threshold? To pursue a claim in New York, you must meet the New York State definition of a serious injury.
  • The value of the damage: Based on an analysis of the medical records, lost wages, impact on your life and a review of similar cases, what is the value of the damages you have suffered?

Determining the value of a case can be quite complicated. In our cases, I prepare a detailed analysis of liability that determines the range of liability the defendant will bear and the probability for each outcome. It sounds as if you can prove that the other driver is 100 percent responsible, particularly since he left the scene and was arrested for DUI. (We are in the midst of bringing a lawsuit in another accident in Queens involving a driver arrested for DUI.)

I also prepare an analysis of the likelihood of meeting the serious injury threshold. You must meet the serious injury threshold or you cannot proceed with a case.

Finally, one would need to determine the value of your damages and that requires analyzing the medical records and other damages, such as lost wages. It also requires a review of similar cases in that jurisdiction. I combine that analysis in a full Case Assessment that determines the value of a case.

With our cases, we determine the value of each case and develop a two-prong strategy that looks at both settlement and trial options. We explain that strategy to our clients and keep our clients up-to-date on all developments. We built our firm on communication and education, so making sure we explain everything to our clients is very important to us.

We use the Case Assessment to guide us in negotiating a potential settlement. The more rigorously an attorney prepares a case and the more willingness to take a case to trial, the more leverage an attorney will have in settlement talks. An attorney’s reputation will also affect settlement talks. Insurers are always willing to offer more in settlement for an attorney known to win large verdicts at trial.

If we do not receive a settlement offer that meets the value of the case, then we can file suit and pursue compensation through the courts. I find that the best leverage for forcing a settlement comes from vigorously preparing for trial. Even after filing a lawsuit, we continue to explore settlement options. Some insurance companies have more flexibility to settle before you file suit, while others will not settle until you file suit.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident case, you may want to consult a New York personal injury attorney experienced with car crash cases. I would be glad to answer your questions and assist you. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email us. You can also visit our website or read more on our blog, New York Law Thoughts.

The Schlitt Law Firm
New York Personal Injury Attorney


This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney. Remember, past results do not guarantee similar outcomes in the future.

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