You may be surprised to learn that quite a few people involved in hit and run accidents leave the scene immediately after a crash. Most people flee because they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they don’t have money or insurance, they have other criminal charges or warrants and need to avoid the authorities altogether, or they’re young drivers and are simply scared.
Regardless of the reason, seeing the person that just hit you speed off only aggravates you and complicates the process you’ll need to go through. We’ve laid out several pivotal steps you’ll need to go through over the following days and weeks after being involved in a hit and run.
First things first; make sure to record or write down any information you may recall about the other driver and their vehicle. A license plate, a description of the vehicle, and a description of the driver will help the authorities complete their investigation. The quickest way to do this is to create a voice memo on your phone memorializing every little detail right after the crash. You never know what piece of the puzzle will help the police put the whole picture together.
Before leaving the scene, call the police to make a report. If your vehicle is not drivable, they will come out to make an official report and call a tow truck to transport your vehicle. They will also take any information you have about the other driver and their vehicle. If your car is drivable, they may not come out to make a report but simply take the information over the phone to create the report. Before you hang up or part ways with the officer, make sure to get the report number, their name, badge number, and phone number so you can follow up with them as they investigate.
If you were injured in the crash, get the medical attention you need as soon as possible. Given the uncertainties of a hit and run accident, it would be best to get medical treatment using your health insurance if possible. That way, if the other driver is never located, you won’t be expected to pay full price for the treatment you receive. Similarly, if you never recover from the other driver, then your health insurance company will not need to be reimbursed.
Even if you choose not to pursue a personal injury case, refusing to get medical attention will only prolong your pain and increase the chances that your body will not heal correctly. Untreated injuries can cause significant issues as you get older such as re-injury and post traumatic arthritis, just to name a few.
If you were injured in the accident, contact a personal injury attorney right away. Give them all of the information and notes that you have about the crash and your injuries. Your attorney will perform their own investigation of the crash which typically includes ordering dash cam video, if available and any 911 calls. They’ll also reach out to the businesses in the area to see if there is surveillance video of the crash. It’s important to note that most stores don’t have cameras facing the street or intersections so it’s a long shot, but any personal injury attorney worth their salt will certainly try.
Similarly, a lot of traffic cameras are live feeds only and don’t actually record the footage. If the footage is recorded it is typically written over within 24 to 48 hours so contacting an attorney and starting the investigation right away can be the difference between recovering for your damages and being left out in the cold.
This may seem like controversial advice but contact your insurance company to make a claim. If you’ve hired an attorney, your attorney will do this, so you don’t have to deal with them. If you were not injured or choose not to hire an attorney, then you’ll need to make the claim yourself. There are several benefits to getting your insurance company involved.
First, if you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and the defendant cannot be located, then you can recover for all your damages from your insurance company. Essentially, they step into the shoes of the other driver and pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering as well as other legally recoverable damages. Keep in mind that even if you make a UM claim, it will benefit you to hire an attorney to pursue the claim on your behalf. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a customer or how much you’ve paid in premiums, they are still an insurance company, and their purpose is to pay you as little as possible.
Second benefit to filing a claim with your insurance company is to get your vehicle fixed. If you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage coverage, then your carrier will take care of the vehicle. You will be responsible for the deductible, but if the defendant is found and they have auto insurance, then you will be reimbursed for your out-of-pocket expenses.
Lastly, even if you do not have uninsured motorist coverage or collision coverage, there is still a benefit to making a claim. Insurance companies have access to a large database so they may be able to locate auto insurance for the other vehicle with a simple license plate or other identifying information.
Whether you hire an attorney or try to handle it yourself, a hit and run accident can get complicated very quickly. Be prepared for a long investigation and focus on the things you can control, like your physical recovery and getting the vehicle fixed. Let the police, your attorney, and the insurance company do what they can to locate the other driver and get you compensated for your damages!