Hit-and-Run Accidents on the Rise in Grand Rapids: What you Need to Know
The Grand Rapids Press recently reported about a major increase in hit-and-run auto accidents in Grand Rapids. According that article, Grand Rapids had 1,600 hit-and-run auto accidents in 2013 and is on trend to beat that number in 2014, with 440 hit-and-run accidents already. This is a disturbing trend for citizens of West Michigan.
When it comes to auto accident insurance, there are few things that you can do to protect you and your family from the tragedy of a hit-and-run. First, you should buy as much uninsured motorist coverage as you can. This is a very inexpensive piece of insurance that might cost you only a few dollars a month for adequate coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage steps in when you are the victim of a careless driver who didn’t have insurance. Since hit-and-run accidents involve other drivers who flee the scene, you never know if that driver had insurance, so a hit-and-run accident generally qualifies as a uninsured motorist claim. In other words, if you have uninsured motorist coverage and are seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident, you will be able to make a claim for damages with your own insurance company.
Second, if you are ever the victim of a hit-and-run, remember that your insurance policy may have certain “notice” requirements. So, for example, you may have to contact the police within a certain number of hours of the accident. You may also have to notify your insurance company within a certain number of days and allow them to inspect your vehicle. Failure to follow the notice requirements of your policy can be very serious. The Michigan Supreme Court has upheld some very strict notice requirements that prevented seriously injured people from making claims for uninsured motorist coverage. So be sure to read your policy and know what to do.
Third, remember that Michigan is an auto no-fault state. That means that if you are the victim of a hit-and-run driver, and you have no-fault insurance, benefits like your medical expenses and three years of lost wages will be covered by your own insurance company. Even hit-and-run victims who aren’t required to have no-fault insurance, like pedestrians or bicyclists, can get no-fault benefits through a special procedure in Michigan’s no-fault law. That’s the beauty of Michigan’s no-fault system: victims of a hit-and-run accidents can still get many of their bills paid even though they never find out who hit them.
But, beware: political leaders in Lansing are looking to “reform” Michigan’s no-fault law. The latest reforms will limit the ability of some victims of hit-and-runs to get no-fault benefits. More on that in another post.
Given the nature of hit and run accidents and the nuances associated with dealing with these claims, if you have any questions or concerns it might be helpful to consult a Grand Rapids auto accident attorney with trusted experience in this area of law.