A hit-and-run accident can be a serious crime and happens when the driver leaves the scene without properly identifying himself or herself to the police or the other driver. If you are the victim of this type of accident, especially if you are injured, it’s important to make note of as much information as you can about the accident, including the vehicle leaving the scene. Stay in contact with law enforcement and your insurance company throughout the claims process.
Take Minimal Action if Seriously Injured
If you are seriously injured during the crash, you don’t want to take any drastic actions alone or attempt to move and make the injury worse. If you are able to reach your cell phone without exerting yourself, call 9-1-1. If you aren’t able to reach your phone, call out for help.
Don’t Try to Follow the Fleeing Vehicle
Following the fleeing vehicle after a hit-and-run isn’t always a good idea. Even if your car does still work enough to drive, you could be creating conditions that lead to another crash or ignoring major injuries. Keep in mind that anyone who leaves the scene of a crash is already in a panicked state and may likely behave even more erratically if followed. Leaving the scene yourself can also make it harder for the police to figure out what happened, and you could be the one that ends up being charged with the hit-and-run.
Do Your Best to Remember the License Plate
The most important thing you can do after this type of accident is notice the license plate. Even if you aren’t able to remember any identifying characteristics about the vehicle, police can typically use the license plate to find the vehicle and then the owner through the vehicle’s registration. Immediately after getting into any kind of accident, look at the license plate of the vehicle. If the car starts speeding away, then pay attention to the license plate and keep repeating it until you are able to write it down. Even a partial license plate can be helpful if that is all you are able to remember.
Recall as Much Information as You Can
If you aren’t able to see the license plate or the car doesn’t have a visible license plate, then there are some other factors that can be helpful. If you are able to, notice any distinguishing features, such as the headlamp shape, the color, and the make and model if you happen to know it. Noticing the direction the vehicle took off in can also be helpful. Descriptions such as a blue sports car or red pickup truck can be useful. If you are able to see the driver then any physical descriptions of the driver should also be noted.
Speak to Witnesses
Two heads can be better in a hectic situation so if you have the opportunity, you can speak to witnesses. Other people near the scene may have been able to remember details that you couldn’t or fill in the gaps of your own memory. Witnesses are an important part of any car accident scene, but for a hit-and-run they become even more important. If an accident happened in a highly populated area, such as a neighborhood or shopping center, you may be able to go around to different doors or shops and find someone who saw what happened. You may also be able to have surveillance video that recorded the accident.
Take Pictures of Damage
Having pictures of the damage can give clues to the authorities about the other car, such as paint remnants.
Getting Compensation for Injuries
Depending on the location of the crash, you are still entitled to compensation for your injuries. If the accident occurred in a no-fault insurance state, then your ability to get compensation for your out-of-pocket losses will be the same as if the driver responsible never left the scene.
In these areas, your own personal injury protection pays for lost income and medical bills but won’t cover vehicle damage. In a liability-based car insurance state, you will need to either track down the driver or have uninsured motorist coverage. From the perspective of a hit-and-run accident, an unknown at-fault driver is the same as a known at-fault driver with no insurance, which is why uninsured motorist coverage will cover the losses.
Speak with a Lawyer
Speaking with hit-and-run accident attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers will give you your options after you recover from your injuries. Unfortunately, many drivers never get caught but the police are more likely to investigate when there is bodily harm. You have the right to file a personal injury claim against the insurance of any drivers that are determined to be at fault. If a driver fled the scene, it can be proof of their vault.
If the other driver can’t be found, then you may be able to have a claim against your own insurance. Having a lawyer on your side can help you get a settlement that can help your recovery financially. Your injuries can make it harder to track down witnesses and other information from the crash and a lawyer can help you do this.
Even if the authorities are able to track down the driver, it may be hard to recover money from them. Hit-and-run drivers are typically driving an unregistered vehicle, are unlicensed, don’t have car insurance, or were in the act of committing a crime when they hit you. If the driver does have insurance, then the liability coverage will pay for your injuries, but even if they are uninsured, it’s still important to explore your options with a lawyer.