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Sacramento County has the dubious distinction of being the county in California where the most hit and run collisions occur. Out of the 15,555 motor vehicle collisions resulting in a fatality or injury in Sacramento County alone in 2004, over 1,180 of these involved a hit and run driver, according to the State Office of Traffic Safety. This disturbing statistic is all the more reason for drivers in this county, and across the state, to purchase and maintain as much Uninsured Motorist insurance coverage as possible.

The Law Offices of Edward A. Smith has successfully represented many victims of hit and run drivers over the 25 years it has been in practice. In that time frame, and despite the state’s laws which require that persons involved in collisions stop, exchange driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle information (or face potential felony hit and run charges and/or loss of driving privileges), many of our clients are victims of hit and run motorists. In those circumstances, if the other driver is never found, the client is left holding the bag on their damaged vehicle and injury claims unless they had the foresight to purchase Uninsured Motorist coverage and Comprehensive/Collision coverage.

Most people do not know that claims made under their Uninsured Motorist coverage are not considered “fault losses” and are, therefore, not considered when insurance premiums are assessed, unless the claimant is determined to be more than 50 percent at fault as well. Therefore, if you have been a victim of a hit and run driver, the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith would encourage you to look to your own insurance policy for coverage you may have purchased — and — to re-evaluate whether or not to purchase uninsured motorist coverage in light of the state’s highest likelihood of being involved in a Sacramento County hit and run collision.

It is also imperative to note that, if you are involved in a hit and run motor vehicle collision, being able to prove “contact” between your vehicle and the vehicle that got away will likely determine, under the terms of your Uninsured Motorist insurance policy, whether or not coverage will be extended to the claim. Thus, motorists who are involved in collisions are encouraged to (1) write down the license plate number of the offending vehicle right away; and (2) report the incident to law enforcement immediately as, many times a prompt investigation by the authorities will turn up the driver who tried to ‘get away.”

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