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Injured in a hit-and-run accident? Your options may be limited.

 Simply having the liability insurance mandated by the state of Wisconsin is not enough to protect cautious drivers in some circumstances. When a negligent driver flees the scene of an accident he or she caused, the cost of medical bills and auto repairs or replacement fall on the party who was not at fault. It seems unfair, but a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident could leave the injured party without recourse to the law, unless the at-fault driver is caught. A collision policy or riders on the liability policy can help with costs so it is important understand your particular policy.

Liability insurance only covers damages to others that result from the policy-holder's actions. It is impossible to bring a lawsuit against or receive any type of compensation from the missing, at-fault party unless you have the right insurance coverage. Financial hardship resulting from hit-and-run accidents may be mitigated in a couple of ways, but there is no substitute for collision insurance, or locating the hit-and-run driver and holding him or her responsible for damages.

A victim of a hit-and-run accident may benefit from consulting with an attorney who specializes in investigating car accidents as his or her investigation may go beyond what the police report. Witness statements may be missed and other evidence could be uncovered, such as security and traffic cameras that could help identify the at-fault driver.

A victim's liability policy may contain a personal injury protection (PIP) rider or a provision for medical payments. Either addition to a policy will cover at least part of the expenses. An uninsured motorist policy rider may cover injuries, but uninsured motorist property damage disallows medical claims. Medical insurance may cover part or all of the treatment expenses for a serious injury. Insurance policies and requirements vary by state and insurance companies are not known for playing fair.

Individuals on the receiving end of a hit-and-run accident are considered victims of circumstance. The first step in this situation is to ensure a thorough accident investigation by the police or a third party. The injured party also needs to review all their insurance policies for potential claims. A final option is appeal to the Wisconsin Crime Victim Compensation Program. This program has strict rules and only covers medical expenses and lost wages up to $40,000 for those who qualify. Victim compensation funds do not generally cover auto repair or replacement however.

Source: Fox Business, "A Hit-and-Run Accident Can Leave You High and Dry," Penny Gusner, Jan. 11, 2013.

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Mudge Porter Lundeen & Seguin, S.C.
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Hudson, WI 54016

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