Anyone who gets into an accident with another motorist, bicyclist, or pedestrian must stop to render aid regardless of who caused the accident. A person is guilty of a hit and run when he or she strikes another person, parked car, or fixed object and does not stop to assist or exchange personal details and insurance information if applicable. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.
How You Should Respond to a Hit and Run Accident
You like to think that people are responsible and care about the well-being of others, especially those you share the road with every day. You shouldn’t feel surprised if you struggle with anger and shock for some time after a hit and run accident. While there’s nothing wrong with experiencing these emotions, it’s important to keep them under control so you can obtain as many details about your case as possible.
The jolt of another driver striking your car, bicycle, or body and then the shock you feel at him or her driving away can make it challenging to know what to do at the scene of an accident. Should you find yourself in this situation, attempt to create a mental image of both the car and driver if possible. Say the license plate number several times if you happen to see it. With luck, you can recall it later and jot it down.
You don’t have to be a car expert, but having some idea of the model and make of the car that struck you assists both the police and your insurance company with their investigation. Try to remember the neighborhood where the accident occurred as well as landmarks and cross streets if you can. Some other helpful details to remember include:
- Time and date of the accident
- Weather conditions when the other driver struck you
- The condition of your vehicle after impact
- Any injuries you sustained due to the accident
If you have a camera on your smartphone, don’t hesitate to take photos of any of the things mentioned above. You might even consider contacting a friend or relative to bring a camera to the scene if you don’t have one with you. The more evidence you have, the easier it will be to locate the other driver.
Tips for Handling Your Insurance Company and the Local Police
You probably feel discouraged if you have little to no information available about the other vehicle or its driver. Even so, you still need to file a report with the police in the community where the accident took place. The police report becomes an official documentation of the accident, whether you locate the other person involved or not. If anyone witnessed the hit and run, the police will contact each person to obtain a statement.
If you can’t find the other driver even with help from the police, the next step is to file a claim with your own insurance company. Most states require auto insurance providers to offer uninsured motorist protection to all customers, and it’s a good idea to take it when you sign up for a new policy. This should pay for damages such as medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. Your auto insurance company will file suit against the other driver for reimbursement if you or the police end up locating the other driver.
Seek a Personal Injury Attorney Early in Your Case
At a time when you’re already under enormous stress, you may find that your own insurance company wants to fight you on paying your expenses under the uninsured motorist portion of your policy. The police have other matters to attend to and will probably not devote as much time to your case as you would like. A personal injury attorney will have more time to devote to researching your case and can help you prepare a lawsuit as well. Most don’t charge for the initial consultation or charge any legal fees until you win your case. You pay a percentage of your proceeds at that point rather than paying them upfront.