Hit-and-run accidents are arguably the worst type of accident to end up in. In addition to the pain and frustration involved with being in such a crash, watching the person who caused it just race off to avoid responsibility can cause shock, anger, and concern. When someone else causes an accident, they’re financially responsible for the damage, and should they flee the scene, recovering compensation can be especially difficult.
Any time you’re involved in a car accident, a car accident lawyer can help increase the amount of money you recover through an insurance claim, but when that accident is a hit-and-run, it’s especially important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. They will be able to help protect your finances and make sure you’ve explored every avenue for compensation.
Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run Accident
Recovering compensation after a hit-and-run accident can be a challenge. Your only options, normally, are to track down the responsible party or make use of your own insurance policy, and even then, it’s possible to end up footing the bill after a hit-and-run accident. If you don’t have savings set aside for car issues, or if the damage was extensive, a hit-and-run accident can be financially devastating.
With that said, in order to make the most of such a bad situation, every driver should be aware of the following basic steps to take after a hit-and-run accident and how a lawyer might be able to help them recover compensation, even when it seems like they’re out of options:
1. Get to a Safe Place
Safety should be your number-one priority after being involved in a hit-and-run accident. If it’s possible, move your car to the shoulder of the road. If not, exit the vehicle and move to the side of the road so that you are at a safe distance from oncoming traffic. In either case, call the police as soon as possible after you’ve moved out of harm’s way.
Often, other drivers will stop after witnessing a hit-and-run. Ask for their contact information, as — if the other driver is identified — their eyewitness testimony can help your case.
2. Write Down the Details
As you wait for the police to arrive on the scene, think back on the details of the crash and write down as much information as possible, whether on a piece of paper or (if you have your phone) your Notes app. If you don’t have any means of recording information, repeatedly go over the crash in your mind so that relevant points stay fresh. Consider how the accident took place, along with any identifying features that could help the police track down the other driver.
3. File a Police Report
Once the police arrive on the scene, you’ll be asked to give a thorough account of the crash. Leaving the scene of a car crash is a criminal offense, and the police will attempt to locate the other driver. Any information you recall could help them find the person financially responsible for the damage.
Identifying features to consider include:
- The color, make, and model of the other vehicle
- Visible damage to the other vehicle
- Bumper stickers or other identifying markers
- The state and any numbers or letters on the license plate
- The direction the other driver fled in
A hit-and-run is often a jolting experience, but taking note of the other car’s license plate number is the most helpful way to identify the other driver. Do your best to provide as much information as you can remember. It is crucial that you don’t make any statements that could be used to deprive you of compensation, and most importantly, don’t admit fault for the accident.
4. See a Doctor
You should always have yourself examined by a doctor following any kind of car accident, including a hit-and-run. Some car crashes can lead to serious injuries and the need for immediate medical care, but not all car accident injuries are immediately apparent despite their severity.
Many of the most common types of injuries associated with car accidents can take a while for symptoms to manifest. Some of these include:
- Mild traumatic brain injury (concussion)
- Brain bleeding
- Organ damage
- Pinched nerve
- Herniated disc
- Other types of spinal cord injuries
These sorts of injuries can eventually lead to costly medical procedures or stop you from performing at your job, so being checked by a doctor right away helps diagnose unseen injuries before they worsen. It also establishes the accident as the source of the injuries – and that the other driver is the person responsible for bearing the cost.
5. Consult a Car Accident Lawyer
Your best chance at recovering hit-and-run accident compensation is to consult with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the crash. As soon as they begin working on your case, they’ll do whatever they can to track down the other driver. Their success here, however, often depends on how much information you’re able to supply.
A lawyer can request access to nearby traffic camera footage. They can also check and see if any nearby homes or businesses have security cameras in place. In some cases, it’s possible to track down a guilty hit-and-run driver through camera footage alone, but if you caught the plate number or even a partial plate number, your car accident lawyer can work with the DMV to see if the vehicle’s owner can be tracked down.
If locating the other driver isn’t possible, your lawyer will take a close look at your insurance policy and see if it can be used to cover the cost of the damage. Depending on state laws and the details of your policy, it might be possible to have any car damage and costs associated with injuries paid for through your own insurance policy. For example, some policies include uninsured motorist coverage.
Regardless, every hit-and-run accident is unique, so your car accident lawyer will need to consider the details of your accident and the terms of your insurance policy to give you a clear idea of what your financial options are after you’ve been involved in such an accident.
Involved in a Hit-and-Run? Call a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have become the victim of a hit-and-run accident, the car accident lawyers at Schiff & Associates are ready to help. Our lawyers will meet with you to discuss your case and help you understand your compensation options when another driver leaves you to handle their mess.
Contact Schiff & Associates to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer today.