Every driver has a legal and moral responsibility to be alert when driving to avoid colliding with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist. It is illegal to leave the scene of the accident. Despite the law, every year since 2006 there has been an average of 682,000 hit and run accidents per year in the United States, the equivalent of one every minute.
There are many reasons a person leaves the scene, including a bad driving record, no insurance, they have alcohol or drugs in their system or are driving without a license. If you are the victim of a hit and run accident, it is important you know what steps to take.
1. Document So You Don’t Forget
If you can get the license plate of the vehicle that fled the scene, and a photo of the vehicle if possible. If there was not enough time to obtain that information, write down as much as you can remember about the vehicle immediately. This includes the license plate number or even the color of the plate, a description of the driver if you saw them, and the direction the vehicle came from or fled to.
Write this information down as quickly as possible after the accident so you don’t forget details.
2. Call 911
Calling 911 will bring the police and, if necessary, an ambulance to the scene. You will need a police report to document the accident, including the fact that it is a hit-and-run, for your insurance claim. If you have a description of the fleeing vehicle you may be able to provide that to the 911 operator so they can advise law enforcement to watch for a vehicle matching the description.
3. Receive Medical Treatment
Obtain medical treatment for any injuries you suffer as a result of the accident. This is important for documenting that your injuries are a direct result of the accident. This is important for insurance and any potential lawsuits relative to the accident.
Following a hit and run accident, especially if you suffer injuries, contact a car collision attorney. They will review the evidence from the accident and advise you on any potential claims you have and the fairness of any settlement offers your receive.
4. Talk to Witnesses
If there was anyone on the scene that may have been a witness to the events, obtain their contact information. Encourage them to stay and provide statements to the police. Their testimony will assist the police in their investigation, may help in identifying the driver that fled the scene, and is valuable for your insurance claim and any potential legal action.
5. Use Caution When Making Statements
When speaking with your insurance company and the police use caution. You do not want to appear to be withholding information, but you do want to make sure that you do not say anything that may later be used against you. Never admit fault or say anything to indicate you are “sorry” for the accident.
Even seemingly innocent statements can be later used as evidence for comparative fault or contributory negligence in the accident. This can have an impact on your insurance and your ability to collect damages in a lawsuit.
Hit and Run Accident Aftermath
Do not assume that your insurance company is working on your behalf, regardless of how friendly they may seem. Insurance companies are out to make money, not pay claims. They may offer you’re a low-ball settlement offer.
If you accept you have eliminated your opportunity to later file for a higher amount if your injuries and costs are more substantial than you thought.
One of the first things you need to do after a hit and run accident is to contact an attorney who specializes in car accidents. They will review your claim and advise you on the best course of action. Check out our other blogs for more great information.