Hit and Run Case Trial Tactics

By Michael Goldberg

I was reading in the newspaper about a hit and run accident involving a silver Porsche. Ironically, a lawyer who was getting ready to try his first hit and run case had also asked me some questions about trial tactics for hit and run cases. Whenever a driver leaves the scene of the accident, the driver is subject to a claim for punitive damages for failing to stop and check on the injured person. A jury can punish a driver for such conduct. But this claim can only be brought against a driver if his identity is discovered. If the driver is never identified, then the injured party is limited to bringing a claim against his uninsured motorist carrier as a John Doe claim. In order to bring a John Doe claim, the injured party must present the corroborating testimony of an eyewitness who saw the incident OR must have physical damage to his/her vehicle caused by the John Doe vehicle coming into physical contact with the injured party’s vehicle. If there is no contact, the injured party must have a corroborating eyewitness. Uninsured motorist coverage does not cover a claim for punitive damages so the injured party is limited to just recovering compensatory damages.

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