A 67-year-old bike rider suffered critical injuries when a driver struck him in Durham, North Carolina (NC), and then fled the scene. The hit-and-run collision happened on Garret Road near the intersection with Old Chapel Hill Road.
Durham police received the call about the wreck a little before 11 pm on December 13, 2017. They learned that the vehicle that sped off after striking the bicyclist was a small dark sedan but need more information to track down the hit-and-run driver. Anyone who witnessed the collision or knows the identity of the fleeing driver is being asked to call the city’s Traffic Services Division at (919) 560-4935 ext. 29409 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.
As Carolina personal injury lawyers, my colleagues and I know how difficult recovering from hit-and-run collisions can be for victims. Not only must they overcome physical injuries, they often face financial problems because the person who hurt them cannot be identified to settle insurance claims or answer to a civil lawsuit.
Finding the person who fled the scene of the wreck with the bicyclist on Garrett Road in Durham would also allow police and courts to the hold the driver accountable for breaking several laws. Causing a hit-and-run collision is, of course, a criminal offense. So is failing to share the road safely and respectfully with a bike rider. North Carolina, like every other state, classifies a bicycle as a vehicle and gives bike riders all the same rights as drivers.
Individuals behind the wheels of car and trucks must yield right of way, pass responsibly and keep an eye out for bikes. Failing to meet those legal duties makes a driver negligent and liable for compensating victims and being sentenced to penalties that can include jail time and high fines.
The possibility of consequences appears to lead many drivers to flee after causing wrecks. A study conducted by a traffic psychologist for the Belgian Road Safety Institute revealed that the major reasons people drove off after crashing are fear of punishment, a desire to avoid blame and lack of insurance. For 42 percent of the 853 hit-and-run drivers interviewed over a 20-year period, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their crash appears to have heightened their concerns over consequences.
The prevalence of lack of insurance coverage among hit-and-run drivers is something that my Carolina personal injury attorney colleagues and I have also noticed. This unfortunate reality makes carrying uninsured motorist coverage through one’s own car insurance policy essential. While an imperfect replacement for making the at-fault driver pay medical bills and replace wages lost while recovering, invoking uninsured motorist coverage can blunt the financial impacts of a hit-and-run collision.
People who suffer injuries in hit-and-run bicycle accidents are often not aware that their insurance on their own car -- or even a relative’s car insurance policy -- may cover them through underinsured and uninsured motorist provisions. Many types of car insurance coverage do not require an injured crash victim to be in or operating a vehicle. Consulting with a North Carolina car accident lawyer will help a hit-and-run victim understand whether their own insurance or a relative’s will cover them as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
Still, such cases are tricky and do require that the victim did nothing to cause the crash. Several other requirements may also apply, including giving notice to the police about the collision as soon as possible, seeking treatment for injuries and filing a report with your own car insurance company within a day or two of the incident.
We field calls about hit-and-run crashes that injure bike riders and pedestrians in crosswalks every month. We always provide free, confidential consultations on these issues. Because of applicable statutes of limitations, you should contact a qualified North Carolina car accident injury attorney promptly if you have questions.