Road traffic accidents are unpredictable and can sometimes have severe consequences. Being involved in a collision is traumatic enough, but if the driver that hit you runs away from the scene of the accident, you’ll probably feel all the more distressed and confused.
In the UK, an alarmingly high number of road accidents involve a hit and run. According to the MIB (Motor Insurers’ Bureau), just over 12% of accidents reported to the police each year that resulted in an injury involved a hit and run driver.
Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of unintentional harm. Luckily, most injuries suffered are minor to moderate, such as bruises, sprains and strains, whiplash, minor fractures or cuts and lacerations.
However, between June 2020 and 2021, there were an estimated 24,530 killed or seriously injured road casualties, a decrease of 22% since the coronavirus pandemic. According to the MIB statistics, close to 3,000 were due to a hit and run.
If you or a loved one were injured in a hit and run accident, you might worry about not being able to recover damages. Fortunately, you can still make a hit and run accident claim through the MIB.
What is a hit and run accident?
In the UK, the Road Traffic Act 1988 requires a driver to stop if their vehicle caused an injury to another person or animal or damage to property. They must give their name and address to anyone reasonably asking for it and their insurance details if there has been an injury.
Failing to stop and provide their information classifies as a hit and run and is a criminal offence that could result in penalty points, the issuing of an unlimited fine, disqualification from driving and even imprisonment.
It is not considered a hit and run if someone causes damage to property with no one around, and then they report the accident to the police.
Hit and run accidents can be classified into two types:
Causing property damage
A hit and run doesn’t necessarily require a collision with another driver or road user. Hitting a parked car or bike and then fleeing the scene is a less serious offence but is still regarded as a hit and run.
Hitting a pedestrian, cyclist, biker or another car with somebody in it and leaving the scene of the accident is a very serious offence. You have a legal duty to remain at the accident scene, offer your contact and insurance details and get medical assistance to the victim if required.
Can I make a hit and run accident claim?
Even if the culprit of your accident is untraceable, you can still make a claim as a pedestrian, cyclist, passenger, or another road user if:
- Your accident happened in the last three years
- Another party who owed you a duty of care was even partially to blame
- You suffered an injury as a result
Drivers, which includes cars, lorries, buses and motorbikes, have a duty of care towards all other road users. Even if they cause you an injury and then leave the accident scene, you are still entitled to make a hit and run injury claim.
If you suffered an injury due to a hit and run, you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible. Car accident claims involving untraceable or uninsured drivers might take significantly longer than a usual road traffic accident.
Most solicitors won’t take on a claim if more than 30 months have passed since the accident due to the lengthy process of gathering evidence and preparing all the legal documents. If your accident happened outside of the UK, the time limit to start a hit and run claim might be much shorter than three years.
What should I do if I am involved in a hit and run accident?
If you were involved in a hit and run accident and want to claim compensation, you will need to prove that another driver was responsible for your injuries and any property damage you might have suffered.
Some basic steps you should follow if the driver that hit you leaves the accident scene include:
- If you or anyone else suffered a severe injury, get medical assistance immediately. Everything else can wait until you are out of danger.
- Stop the car somewhere safe and do not try to follow the runaway driver.
- Try to get the driver’s licence plate or take note of the colour and model of the vehicle that hit you.
- Ask for the help of any witnesses who saw the accident and get their names and contact details.
- Immediately report the accident to the police.
- Take photographs of any damage to your car and the injuries you sustained.
- Check if any CCTV cameras might have recorded the accident.
- Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible.
- Make sure you get medical care for your injuries. A medical record is a piece of essential evidence in any personal injury claim.
Following these steps will make it much easier to make a successful hit and run accident claim. Even if you couldn’t get any evidence at the accident scene, your solicitor might still be able to help you build a strong case.
How common are hit and run accidents?
According to a report from the Motor Insurers Bureau, in 2015, just over 12% of road traffic accidents reported to the police involved a hit and run injury. This amounts to a number of 17,122 accidents involving a runaway driver.
With around 150,000 casualties of all severities each year in Great Britain, it is fair to estimate that at least 18,000 of them are caused by a hit and run driver, making it a highly concerning problem.
With hit and run accidents increasing from 19,239 in 2013 to 28,010 in 2017, the Ministry of Justice considered introducing life sentences for causing death by dangerous driving.
Data obtained from the Mayor of London shows a 60% increase in hit and run accidents causing injuries between 2009 and 2015. Regarding overall collisions, hit and run accidents increased from 13% in 2009 to 20% in 2015. Shockingly, one in five drivers fails to stop at the accident scene.
Across London, between 2009 and 2015, hit and run accidents caused 82 fatalities, 2,161 severe injuries and 27,544 minor to moderate casualties.
Common reasons for which an individual might commit a hit and run include:
- Being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
- Having not noticed that an accident occurred
- Driving without a license
- Driving a stolen vehicle or having another criminality to hide
- They did not consider the accident to be significant
- Not holding valid insurance
- Panicking and trying to protect themselves from any consequences
How much compensation can I claim for a hit and run injury?
Like in every personal injury claim, the amount of compensation you can receive in a hit and run accident claim depends on:
- Your physical and mental pain and suffering
- Current and future lost wages
- Medical costs, including treatments, medication, rehabilitation
- Loss of amenity and changes in life quality
- Financial expenses caused by damage to your property
- Any other losses you incurred, such as travel expenses or modifications to your home or vehicle
Your solicitor will take into account the many ways in which the hit and run injury affected your life and calculate a suitable compensation amount that could range between:
- £240 to £4,345 for a whiplash injury
- £36,390 to £151,070 for a severe back injury
- £40,410 to £379,100 for moderate to very severe head injuries
- £36,770 to £122,860 for severe arm injuries
- £2,180 to £34,480 for facial injuries
To find out more about your compensation prospects, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
Who pays the compensation for a hit and run accident claim?
If you are the victim of a hit and run accident and want to make a claim, there are three possible outlines:
- If the police manage to track down the responsible driver and they have a valid insurance policy, you will be able to make a claim just like in a usual road traffic accident.
- If the hit and run driver is untraceable or they have no insurance, you could either:
- Make a claim through your insurer if you hold fully comprehensive insurance. The claim might settle faster this way, but you might lose your no claim bonuses.
- Make a claim through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau is an independent, non-profit organisation that pays compensation to victims of unidentified or uninsured drivers. The MIB is funded by every insurer that provides compulsory vehicle insurance.
You can approach the MIB directly or have a legal adviser represent you. It is, nonetheless, recommended you hire an expert solicitor who can help guide you through the process, handle all the required paperwork and advise you on how to improve your chances to receive compensation.
What is the time limit for claiming through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau?
Usually, you have three years since the date of the accident to start a claim. The last date on which you can ask for compensation is known as the claim limitation date and can vary in certain circumstances:
- Some injuries, such as whiplash, might take days or even weeks to develop symptoms. In such situations, the three-year countdown will begin on the day you became aware of an injury.
- There is no limitation date to make a hit and run accident claim on behalf of a child under 18 or an individual lacking the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings.
- In the case of a fatal injury, a close family member can claim compensation within three years from the victim’s death.
- For hit and run accidents that happened abroad, the time limit could be as short as six months, and the claiming process could be more complicated, so you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
To find out what limitation date might apply to your case, you can speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
My child was injured in a hit and run. Can I claim on their behalf?
Every parent is entitled to make a personal injury claim on behalf of their child if they are under the age of 18 years old. You can represent them as a litigation friend at any time before they turn 18. Afterwards, they have another three years to start a claim themselves.
A court will have to appoint you to represent an injured child, after making sure you can fairly and competently represent them, with no conflict of interest.
All child injury claims have to go through an Infant Approval Hearing in court so that a judge can consider all the available evidence and make sure they receive a fair compensation amount. The money will then be transferred into a court bank account and will only be released to the child once they turn 18.
Will a solicitor offer me a no win no fee service?
If you suffered an injury in a hit and run accident and want to claim compensation, the first thing you should do is contact a professional solicitor. They will offer you a free initial consultation to ask about the accident details, your injuries, and any other losses you incurred.
If they believe your claim is valid and has a fair chance of success, you will be offered a no win no fee agreement. This way, you won’t have to worry about upfront legal charges and solicitor fees.
Furthermore, if you end up losing the claim, you are protected by the After the Event insurance policy your solicitor will take out on your behalf. You won’t have to pay a single penny, so you are running no financial risks.
You will only have to pay a success fee if you receive compensation. You will agree upon the success fee before starting legal proceedings, and this cannot exceed 25% of the total compensation amount.