This past Friday, February 20, there was an incident where a driver fled the scene of a crash during a police pursuit. It was reported by WHIO that the driver took off on foot after the wreck. The driver had not yet been caught as of the time that this article was published. The highway patrol knows the suspect’s identity, but they are not releasing his name until an arrest warrant has been issued.
The accident happened on North Walnut Avenue just north of Michigan Street in Sidney.
It appears that one of the occupants of vehicle that was hit may have been injured and was taken to a local hospital as a precaution. He would have a legal claim against the driver, as would the other occupant of that vehicle if he or she was injured (see legal commentary below).
Source WHIO Dayton
Legal Commentary on Hit-and-Run Liability
You may be wondering if you can recover for injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident. The law is pretty clear.
If you have been injured by someone in a hit-and-run, the insurance company for the driver (if the identity is discovered) may deny responsibility under language in most policies that exclude intentional harm. In Buckeye Union Insurance Company v. New England Insurance Company, 87 Ohio St.3d 280 the Ohio Supreme Court found that “an intent to injure, not merely an intentional act, is a necessary element to uninsurability.” In other words, unless the driver was trying to hurt you, his or her insurance should pay for your injuries.
Motorists Mutual Insurance Co. et al v. Bill et al, 56 Ohio St.2d 258 was a case somewhat similar to this news story. In that case, Michael Bill struck another vehicle while he was trying to elude policemen. The Court stated that it “believes the car was struck when the minors were trying to elude the policeman. We do not believe that it was intentional and willful. We believe it was done out of fight while they were trying to get away from the policeman. He had no intention of striking the car.”
But just because the driver can be identified does not mean that the driver will necessarily be held liable. In a recent case, State Farm Automobile Insurance Co et al v. Jiles, 214 Ohio 2512, a 17-year old stole a dump truck and, when being pursued by the police showed many instances of intentionally trying to hit other vehicles such as swerving at them, backing into them, and was seemingly in full control of the vehicle the entire time. The Court found that the policy did not apply to these facts because the driver’s “maneuvering of the dump truck was deliberate and calculated to push vehicles out of his way in order to continue his flight.”
Of course, the driver cannot always be identified in a hit-and-run accident. If this is the case, your only recourse is uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is a clause in some auto insurance policies that provides compensation for your injuries from your own auto insurance policy when you are struck by an uninsured motorist, or if you are struck by someone who cannot be identified. While the coverage is required in certain states, Ohio is not currently one of them. We highly recommend that every driver carry auto insurance that contains this clause with limits of at least $100,000 per person. If you are unsure whether your policy has this coverage, check the declarations page of your policy, or check with your agent.
Alex Freitag is an Ohio personal injury lawyer. He offers a free consultation. To get his help call 937-306-6410 or 1-800-447-6548. Find out what it feels like to get help from a lawyer that cares.