As reported in an article on nwlanews.com, Randy Campbell of Doyline is in stable condition at Louisiana State University Medical Center after surviving an automobile accident on I-20 near U.S. Hwy 532. The accident occurred early in the morning of February 9th. According to an eyewitness account, Campbell was headed eastbound when an 18-wheeler allegedly ran him off the road, causing him to come to a stop in a ditch facing the other direction.
Rescue teams were dispatched to the scene, and Campbell had to be cut out of his 2008 Ford Pickup. Police are on the lookout, but have not yet located the rig responsible for the accident.
In a situation like this one, who will pay for the damages created?
Under Louisiana law, the party found at fault for causing an accident is financially responsible for all of the damages. This can include medical expenses for anyone who has been injured, lost wages for time the injured person is not able to work, possible compensation for pain and suffering, and in some cases even punitive damages meant to punish the party at fault. If the injured party later dies their survivors may even pursue a wrongful death claim. However, the situation is slightly different when it is a hit and run.
First, police should do all they can to find the at fault driver. Here, the article indicates that there were witnesses to the accident. If an eyewitness or Mr. Campbell was able to get the license plate number on the truck, the driver may be able to be tracked down by law enforcement who can search police records or the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles.
If the party at fault cannot be located, however, the injured driver’s insurance company would be the only party from which to collect damages. The amount of damages that can be collected in a hit and run situation depends on the type of insurance policy the driver has.
Louisiana law requires that individuals purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for these types of situations. A hit and run driver is considered “uninsured” as long as there was a disinterested witness to the accident (for example, someone who was not in the car at the time). A person buying insurance in Louisiana is presumed to have also bought this coverage because, under state law, individuals must sign a form indicating they have rejected uninsured/underinsured coverage in order to not buy it.
Uninsured/underinsured coverage should pay the medical expenses for any bodily injury you or an occupant of your vehicle suffers due to an accident caused by another driver who is deemed uninsured or underinsured. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may also cover property damage to your vehicle depending on the policy type.
Even if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, insurance companies are often looking out for their own bottom line, and may be hesitant to pay you everything you are entitled to under your policy. If you have been the victim of a hit and run it is crucial that you have an attorney on your side to ensure your needs are met.