After a car accident, responsible motorists stop to assess the damage and collect crucial information that can help to prove who was at fault for the accident. They will report the incident to the local police officers and call medical emergency services if necessary.
But what happens when the other driver involved doesn’t do any of these things? They might speed off from the scene before you have a chance to get their insurance information or license plate number. This is known as a hit-and-run accident, and it can leave you feeling panicked, frustrated, and even injured.
If you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and follow these steps:
1. Don’t Chase After the Other Vehicle
Although it may be tempting to chase after the other driver when you are a hit-and-run victim, doing so will compromise your safety. It’s also against the law in most states to leave the scene of an accident, even if you are the victim.
First, the other driver could be armed and dangerous, and second, you will also be fleeing the accident scene, leaving behind crucial evidence that could help you later on.
So, instead of going after the other driver, try to get a good look at the other vehicle and take note of any distinguishing features that will help you identify it later. These features include the car’s make, model, and color, as well as any dents, scratches, or other damage.
Also, try to remember the license plate number if you can. Even partial information can be helpful.
2. Call the Police
After taking a moment to collect yourself, it’s important to call the police immediately and make a report.
The police will come to the accident scene and collect evidence that can be used to help find the hit-and-run driver. They will also talk to any witnesses who may have seen what happened.
3. Check for Injuries
It is also crucial to check for any injuries you or your passengers may have sustained in the accident. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, be sure to visit a hospital and get thorough medical checkup to avoid serious health complications later on.
Some injuries, such as concussions, may not be immediately apparent. And, if you do have injuries, seeking medical attention right away will help you feel better and create a record of your injuries which can be used to support your car accident insurance claim later on.
4. Collect Evidence
If you can, take photos of the damage to your vehicle and any visible injuries. These photos can be used as evidence if you decide to file a claim against the other driver.
You should also get the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Their accounts could help prove what happened and who was at fault.
5. Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
Typically, the police officer who responds to the accident will file a report. This report can be useful in filing an insurance claim or even taking legal action against the other driver.
The police report will contain crucial information, such as the names and contact information of the involved parties, insurance information, a description of the accident, and the officer’s conclusions about who was at fault. It will also indicate whether any traffic citations were issued.
Ideally, you should obtain a copy of the police report from the officer at the accident scene. But, if that’s not possible, you can request a copy from the police department.
6. File an Insurance Claim
Once you have gathered all the evidence, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company.
In most states, drivers are required to have uninsured motorist coverage in case they are in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or flees the scene of the accident.
This coverage will help pay for repairs to your vehicle and any medical bills related to your injuries. It will also reimburse you for any wages you lost if you had to miss work because of the accident.
Remember that even if you have this coverage, your rates could still go up at your next policy renewal.
7. Consider Taking Legal Action
If the police cannot find the hit-and-run driver, or if they do not have insurance, you may want to consider taking legal action.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether it is worth your time and energy to pursue a civil case.
In some instances, your lawyer may be able to help you find the hit-and-run driver. And, even if you are unable to locate the driver, you may still be able to receive compensation through your own insurance company’s underinsured motorist coverage.
After a hit-and-run accident, it’s important to take the proper steps to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights.
By following the tips we’ve outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that you’re doing everything possible to get back on track after this traumatic experience.
Have you gone through a hit-and-run accident? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below.