Hit-and-run accidents can be devastating. On top of the physical injuries and property damage sustained in the accident, there is often no party to look to for responsibility. This can leave an injured accident victim in a very unfortunate financial situation. Thankfully, under Maryland law, a driver’s own insurance company can be looked to for financial compensation, even if the hit-and-run driver responsible for the accident is never located.
This is exactly what happened in the recent case of Doe v. Pak. The case was filed by an accident victim, Ms. Pak, against an unknown hit-and-run driver, John Doe. Since Doe could not be located, Pak looked to her insurance carrier, State Farm, for the financial compensation she needed to cover her medical expenses.
Before the case even made it to trial, State Farm agreed to pay Pak $30,628 for her injuries. However, not satisfied with the offer, Pak turned it down and instead asked a court to decide what was fair. While the case was proceeding through the trial process, State Farm gave Pak the $30,628 amount as a credit toward any future award. The agreement in place at the time was that the amount was not an agreement to settle for that amount, but was merely a credit toward any future amount that may be awarded by the court.
After a trial, the jury determined that Ms. Pak was entitled to $70,700. When submitting an order to the court for the payment, Ms. Pak did not include a credit for the $30,638 that State Farm had given her prior to the verdict. State Farm objected and asked the court to credit the amount.
The lower court, however, felt that the amount was more of a “gift” than a credit toward any amount due, and it denied State Farm’s request to credit the amount. State Farm appealed.
On Appeal, the Amount Is Credited
The appellate court hearing the case determined that the $30,628 was not a gift but was a proper payment toward any amount that was ultimately due, and that it should be credited toward the total that State Farm owed Ms. Pak. The court held that denying the credit would essentially result in forcing State Farm to pay that portion of the award amount out twice, which would not be fair and is not permitted under the law.
Have You Been Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a hit-and-run accident, and police have not yet been able to apprehend the other driver, you may still be entitled to monetary compensation through your own insurance company. However, insurance companies can be difficult to deal with, as noted above, and it is best to have a skilled personal injury attorney on your side to ensure that your interests are protected throughout the process. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a caring and compassionate attorney who can help you assess the strength of your case.
More Blog Posts:
Determining Fault in Maryland Multi-Vehicle Accidents, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 2, 2016.
Plaintiff Sanctioned by Court for Bringing Claim for Punitive Damages Without Basis, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published January 19, 2016.