By: KGD Law
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What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
A motor vehicle accident is never a welcome event, but hit and run accidents can be especially jarring and frustrating. A hit and run crash is when a driver flees the scene of an accident before exchanging information with all involved parties and making sure everyone is okay. Hopefully, you never experience a hit and run, but if you do, here are some tips, so you know what to do right away and can go through the process as smoothly as possible.
1. Pull Over
It may be tempting to try to get more information by following the culprit, or maybe you even hope to catch up to the person and apprehend them. Unfortunately, this is not a good idea. Not only will you be leaving the scene of the accident, making it much more difficult for police to figure out the details of what happened and solve the case for you, it can be dangerous.
If you were to catch up with the culprit, you don’t know what state that person is in and if they are a threat to you, and you are unlikely to get any useful information out of them. Also, if your car was badly damaged from the wreck, it may not be in legal and safe driving condition, and you could get in trouble or pose a risk to yourself and other drivers.
Further, if you leave the scene, police may not be able to use the evidence to determine if a hit and run truly occurred, and you may become liable for any damages or your insurance company could deny your claim.
2. Call the Police
You should always notify the police after a traffic accident, but this is especially key if you have been involved in a hit and run accident. Even if you weren’t able to get much information about the vehicle that hit you, the police are equipped to deal with just this type of incident and may be able to use evidence or other resources to track down the culprit. Additionally, if you were hurt or your vehicle is badly damaged, law enforcement can request medical assistance and get a tow truck for your car.
To the best of your ability, try to report any information you have to the authorities in the first 24 hours after the accident. The sooner the police have the details they need, the more likely they are to find the person who hit you. If you neglect to report the incident to the police in a timely manner, your insurance company could find you at fault, which could increase your premiums or make you responsible for damages, depending on your coverage.
3. Attempt to Identify the Other Driver
Sometimes, despite their best efforts, the police to apprehend a hit and run driver after the accident. You can give them the best chance of catching the perpetrator by giving them as many details as possible. Once you are safe, try to write down all the information you have immediately after the crash while the incident is still fresh in your mind.
Your account to the police will be the most helpful and thorough if you do the following:
- Write down anything you can remember about the vehicle that hit you, including make, model, color, license plate (even partial helps), and any unique identifying features. Make note of which direction the driver fled in.
- Find witnesses. Ask other drivers or passersby near the area if they saw the accident and have any identifying information that could help.
- If there are local businesses nearby, check if any of them have security footage that could corroborate your story.
- Take detailed pictures of the damage to your vehicle, debris from the accident, and the surrounding area.
This information can also be useful when speaking with your insurance company about your claim.
4. Assess your Medical Condition
Make sure to check yourself for any injuries in the immediate aftermath. If you are seriously injured, seek medical help immediately. However, keep in mind that injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents can take a few days or even weeks to show up.
That is why even if you feel fine directly after the wreck, you should still visit your medical provider as soon as possible so the doctor can examine you for any hidden injuries, such as whiplash, broken bones, internal bleeding, or head injuries. Monitor yourself for any pain or new symptoms over the next several weeks following the incident and report any new developments to your doctor as they come up.
Additionally, you should track your mental health condition. Scary accidents can result in conditions like PTSD, and concussions can manifest as mood changes or other mental shifts. Request any relevant medical records from your doctors to provide to your insurance company.
5. Gather Evidence
Walk through the events of the accident in your mind. In addition to any details you recall about the other vehicle, write down what happened before, during, and after the crash. Try not to disturb any evidence or debris from your vehicle before the police arrive, so they can corroborate the direction of impact.
Do your best to take good quality photos of the damage, rather than numerous lesser quality photos that don’t actually show the important parts of the damage very well. Try starting with some photos from four to six feet away from the vehicle, so the area of damage is clear, then move in closer to capture the specific components up close. Do this on all four sides of your vehicle.
You should also capture photos of the surrounding area, especially noting any traffic signs or signals and crossroads. If you have a dash cam, make sure you save this footage and give it to the police as soon as possible.
6. Talk to Witnesses
Talk to anyone you can find in the immediate surrounding area. If there are no drivers or pedestrians nearby, try going into local businesses and see if anyone saw anything. It might even be help to check shops around the corner or farther down the road, in the case that you were hit by a reckless driver. Even if they didn’t see the actual accident, someone might have noticed a vehicle operating erratically.
Write down the stories you are able to get from any witnesses and include their contact information. Be sure to provide this information to the police if you collect it before they arrive on the scene. Even if your witnesses didn’t provide any new information, their testimony is still important to back up your story.
The claim process with your insurance company can be lengthy and not as straightforward as a typical motor vehicle collision. You’ll likely need uninsured motorist coverage or collision coverage if the police are not able to locate the other driver. An attorney can help you through the process, whether or not the other party is found. You may be entitled to compensation related to any suffering or hardship you incurred as a result of the accident.
If you were involved in a hit and run accident, it is important to get legal advice right away to ensure you are properly compensated and to help you navigate the insurance claim process. For a no-obligation consultation about your case, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz to be put in touch directly with a lawyer.