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Hit-and-run accident leads to injuries, power outage in Billings

Car accidents are unpredictable by nature and have unexpected consequences. This was illustrated in a recent hit-and-run accident near the intersection of Milton Road and Main Street in Billings. As two cars headed south on Main Street, a Subaru hit a Honda Civic and pushed it into a utility pole, causing a power outage that affected about 800 utility customers. The Subaru then fled the scene.

Unfortunately, the mayhem caused by this crash was not limited to the power outage. The driver of the Civic was taken to the hospital, and his passenger later sought treatment at the hospital on her own.

Police later identified a juvenile as the driver of the hit-and-run car, who allegedly also had two adult male passengers at the time of the incident. Thus far, authorities were still reviewing the possibility of criminal charges. Police say the juvenile driver may be charged with DUI, driving without a license, leaving the scene of an injury crash and driving without insurance.

Montana, like almost all states, requires that motorists maintain liability insurance to protect others financially from the consequences of negligent driving. However, this law is difficult to enforce, except when an accident occurs.

Fortunately, Montana law provides some relief for people injured by an uninsured driver. A Montana statute provides that every Montana automobile insurance policy must provide coverage to the insured for damages caused by an uninsured driver.

In any car accident injury case, one of the first tasks of the injured person's attorney is to identify all potential sources of recovery, including all insurance policies that may provide coverage. Liability coverage on any at-fault vehicles is usually the first source for potential compensation. If any of those vehicles are uninsured, then uninsured motorist coverage -- if it was not rejected by the policyholder -- is another potential source. Even if the driver did not carry insurance, if he or she was driving someone else's car, then there may be a policy on the vehicle to provide coverage.

Source: Billings Gazette, "Hit-and-run crash causes Heights power outage; driver identified," Zach Benoit, July 23, 2012

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