How Do I Handle a Hit-and-Run Car Accident?
Hit-and-run accidents are particularly difficult to process, because the perpetrator is out of the picture. The police may never catch the individual who hit you, leaving you to pay for your own injuries and property damage. “Unfair” doesn’t begin to describe the experience of being involved in a hit-and-run encounter.
7 Steps to Follow after a Hit-and-Run Car Accident
If you have the opportunity, you can take these seven steps to improve the likelihood of catching the driver and securing maximum compensation through your own insurance and a potential civil claim:
1. Try to Obtain Information About the Vehicle that Hit You.
If you see the vehicle drive away, make a note of its information, including the license plate number and details about the vehicle’s make and model. Make a note of the damage the accident caused and any distinguishing details you can recall including hair color, bumper stickers, and the direction in which the vehicle moved.
2. Seek Out Witnesses.
It is always a good idea to locate people in the proximity that can vouch for you. Or, if someone hit your parked car and you were elsewhere, try to find witnesses to the event. You should ask parking attendants, security personnel, and anyone else around if they saw what happened to your vehicle.
3. Call Emergency Services.
You still need to call 911 for police assistance and medical attention, even if you are the only one left at the scene of the accident. If possible, provide the responder with information about the hit-and-run driver so law enforcement officials can comb the area. Do not leave the area to pursue the driver on your own or block traffic if you have the ability to move your vehicle to the side of the road.
4. File a Police Report.
If you do not receive roadside assistance from an officer, remember to file a police report. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, you have up to10 days to file a report to the DMV. But if someone was hurt or killed during the accident, you have to submit a report to the police within 24 hours. Your insurance policy may require you to do so to collect uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits.
5. Document the Scene.
Take pictures or video of the accident scene and your injuries as well as the people nearby when the accident occurred. Ask witnesses and law enforcement officials for names and contact information. You may need this information later.
6. Call your Insurer.
After any accident, call your auto insurance company and give them notice that you have been involved in an accident. Let the company know if the accident was a hit-and-run, but wait to provide further details until after the results of an investigation.
7. Reach Out to an Attorney
If you have any questions about the process, an attorney who specializes in auto accidents and hit-and-run cases can help you negotiate with your insurance provider and obtain fair compensation for your injuries. You may want to discuss your case with an attorney before notifying your insurance company. Look into your policy for specific information on time limits for reporting an accident.
In a best-case scenario, the police may catch the driver and provide you with an opportunity to confront him or her about insurance information. Unfortunately, many hit-and-run drivers will flee a scene because they don’t have insurance, they don’t have enough insurance, or they don’t have a license/registration. Drivers who don’t carry adequate insurance may not have the ability to pay for your injuries or property damage out of pocket.
For unidentified or uninsured motorist cases, look into your own policy details for compensation. The coverage is designed to pick up where other coverage leave off. If you do not currently have uninsured motorist coverage, talk to your insurance provider about adding the benefit to your existing policy.
Dealing with insurance companies and ongoing searches for hit-and-run drivers can take time. These cases are complex for those who suffer severe injuries and have trouble finding the financial compensation needed to recover. Get in touch with a hit-and-run accident attorney at Grey Law today for more information about your particular situation. You may have another resource for compensation in some situations.
For more information regarding auto accidents, refer to our article with Frequently Asked Questions about Auto Accidents.