Car accidents are an emotional and often traumatic experience, especially if you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run crash. While it is illegal to flee the scene of an accident, it is not uncommon for Minnesota pedestrians and drivers to be involved in a hit-and-run. In 2021 alone, 7,532 crashes were classified as a hit-and-run in Minnesota.
Fortunately, Minnesota’s no-fault insurance system makes it easier to recover damages in the event of a hit-and-run — but that doesn’t excuse the actions of the at-fault driver. Your own coverage may also not be adequate to cover your costs if you were seriously injured, in which case the other driver may be liable for some of your additional damages.
A hit-and-run occurs when a driver collides with another vehicle, person or object and speeds off without exchanging information or rendering aid. Minnesota law penalizes hit-and-runs if the drivers can be identified and located.
Being guilty of a hit-and-run doesn’t necessarily confer fault for a crash. Showing the hit-and-run driver caused your crash and should be liable for your damages is a separate matter. An experienced accident lawyer may be able to help gather evidence to show the driver was at fault for your crash.
What Are Minnesota’s Hit-and-Run Laws?
It is illegal to flee the scene of an accident in the state of Minnesota. Anyone who is involved in a motor vehicle collision is required to stop, identify themselves, exchange information (i.e., name, date of birth, address, license plate number, insurance, etc.) and render aid to driver(s), their passengers or pedestrians in the event of an injury or death. This includes reporting the collision to Minnesota law enforcement at the scene of the accident.
If a driver involved in a crash leaves the scene of the accident before they can exchange information with the other drivers involved, they have 72 hours to provide their insurance information.
Is a Hit-and-Run Considered a Felony?
In the state of Minnesota, an at-fault driver may be charged with a felony if the accident they caused resulted in great bodily harm or death. Hit-and-run accidents involving property damage typically fall under a misdemeanor. All charges may also result in license suspension, hefty fines and jail time depending on the circumstances.
What Steps Should You Take if You Are the Victim of a Hit-and-Run?
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident and the at-fault driver flees, there are a few steps you can take to stay safe at the scene of the accident and ensure your claim’s validity.
- Assess the safety of yourself, your passengers and anyone else involved. Call 911 right away if you believe you are injured or if you require immediate medical attention.
- If you were hit while driving and your car is operable, move your vehicle off the road and find a safe location (i.e., shoulder, parking lot, etc.) to make phone calls and exchange information with any witnesses or people involved.
- Call law enforcement to report the accident and be sure to provide them with as much information as possible including anything you remember about the at-fault driver (i.e., vehicle color, make and model, license plate number, distinguishing features and characteristics, etc.).
- Document the scene by taking photos of the damage, only if it is safe to do so.
- File a claim with your insurance company and be sure to provide all information and evidence you have gathered.
How Can You Receive Compensation After a Hit-and-Run Accident?
When an at-fault driver flees the scene of a collision, they run the risk of facing personal injury lawsuits and criminal charges. However, this can only be the case if Minnesota law enforcement can successfully identify and track down the driver. Even if the at-fault driver can’t be quickly located, you should still be able to collect some compensation.
Since Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state, all drivers are required to carry a few types of insurance: personal injury protection (PIP), property damage liability and underinsured/uninsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This requirement works in your favor after a hit-and-run and provides you with the coverage you need as a victim.
PIP allows you to recover compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury claim against both your insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurer (if your damages exceed your PIP limit and the other driver is at fault and can be found).
If you do not know the driver’s identity, this is where UM coverage can provide you with the compensation you need (if the other driver was at fault). UM coverage is available through your own insurance company once you file a personal injury claim.
Seek Help from a Car Accident Hit-and-Run Lawyer in the Twin Cities
If you or someone you love fell victim to a hit-and-run incident in Minnesota, don’t deal with the consequences alone. There are a number of car accident attorneys in the Twin Cities with a breadth of experience in personal injury hit-and-run cases.
One of our referral counselors at the Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) can connect you with a Minneapolis-area car accident lawyer who can investigate your case and advocate for you. Give us a call at (612) 752-6699 for more information.