If you’ve been a hit and run victim of a car accident, you might be feeling a lot of different things: anger, confusion, pain to name a few.
With all of the physical and emotional distress, filing a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind.
But there are steps you can take to get compensation for medical costs or other damages. If the accident occurred due to another person’s negligence–and you’ve sustained serious injuries–you have legal options.
In most states, it is illegal to flee the scene after being involved in an automobile crash, but hit and runs are still up 25% over the last four years in the U.S. Despite laws and moral responsibility, thousands of hit and run accidents continue to happen each year.
While most hit and runs result in injury, some hit and runs can be deadly.
Here are 5 legal tips to consider if you’ve been the victim of a hit and run–so you can get the compensation you deserve.
1. If Possible, Take Notes as the Car Leaves the Scene
In some hit and run accidents, the victim won’t have the time or won’t be physically able to take note of the car. If you’re lucky enough to have a few seconds to collect information, write down as much of it as you can remember.
Important information could include:
- Make, model, and color of the car;
- License plate number (or part of it);
- Distinguishing features of the car (damage, stickers, etc.);
- Physical description of the driver;
- What direction the car was headed.
Do your best to watch the car closely or try to track down any witnesses to help you fill out identifying information.
You can also contact local businesses or homes. If you can obtain security footage of the accident, this can help you recover more details–and the evidence can be vital later on.
2. Call the Police
It’s important to remember that a hit and run is a crime – and you’ll need the help of law enforcement to ensure that the perpetrator is caught.
As a hit and run victim, you should contact law enforcement immediately after the accident. Give any and all details that you can.
This incident needs to be documented as soon as possible. The sooner the crime is reported to police, the better chance you have of finding the person who hit you.
Just remember, filing a police report doesn’t mean the person will be caught. Even if the police don’t find the driver who hit you, having a report on file can speed up the claims process and give you an official document to refer to later.
3. Seek Medical Treatment
If you’ve been injured in any way, see a doctor and have your injuries documented.
Having the input of medical professionals and official documentation of your injuries is crucial to building your case. Not only does this prove the physical distress that the accident caused you, but it can help strengthen your case.
Furthermore, you might have injuries you’re not even aware of. A medical evaluation can help you understand the full extent of your injuries.
Be sure to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and give a detailed report of all of your injuries. Before leaving the medical facility, ask about obtaining copies of these medical records, which you can later use to pursue compensation.
4. File an Insurance Claim
If you have insurance, file a claim as soon as possible after the hit and run. Different companies have different deadlines for a hit and run victim – and a missed deadline could mean losing any chance at compensation.
The outcome depends mostly on the driver responsible for the hit and run. Here are two outcomes that may happen:
If Police Find the Driver
If the responsible driver is located and arrested by police, you may be able to obtain compensation directly from this person. They would be liable for all the damages they caused.
In the best-case scenario, the police identify the driver and they have adequate insurance coverage. If they have insurance, you can file a claim with their insurance company to pursue compensation for medical expenses and emotional distress.
Unfortunately, many drivers flee the scene of an accident because they don’t have adequate insurance. This means you may not be able to get compensation directly from the person responsible.
If Police Don’t Find the Driver
If the police can’t find the driver (or the driver has no insurance), you can still file a claim with your own insurance company.
You can obtain compensation for damages to your car, payments for injuries you suffered during the accident, and/or medical expenses. However, if you don’t have insurance coverage or your policy doesn’t extend to hit and run accidents, it may be more difficult to obtain compensation.
5. Contact an Attorney
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help you explore your legal options as a hit and run victim. No matter the physical or emotional injuries you’ve sustained, an attorney can help you file an insurance claim and even pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
An attorney will manage every aspect of your claim – from the investigation to negotiating compensation. While insurers might not always offer you a fair deal, attorneys fight for you to get the best possible outcome. They’ll have your best interests in mind every step of the way.
Are You A Hit and Run Victim?
A hit and run accident can be devastating. If you’re the victim of a hit and run, there’s nothing you want more than to get justice. At Sweet Law Group, we want that for you too, and our experienced attorneys are ready to provide you with the most effective legal counsel.
Let our experienced lawyers take care of the negotiation with insurance companies and law enforcement–all you have to do is rest and heal.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!