On average, over 680,000 hit and run accidents happen each year and recent years have seen the highest number of hit and run accidents ever.
Like other car accidents, a hit and run can have long-lasting impacts on you. From property damage to injuries to death in some cases, you need to know your rights and what to do after a hit and run.
Read on to learn what you should do if you have been involved in a hit and run.
1. Remain Calm
Although it may be difficult, try to remain calm after an accident. If it’s safe to do so, stay in your car for a moment. Take some deep breaths to try to bring your heart rate down and assess any injuries you may have.
If you can remain calm, you will act rationally and logically after the accident, making it more likely that you’ll stay safe and won’t act aggressively or angrily towards others involved.
Remaining calm will also allow you to better assess the situation and remember the accident and details about the person who hit you. This is especially important in a hit and run accident.
If it’s safe to do so, get out of your car and see if others are injured.
2. Call the Police
If you call 911, the dispatcher will be able to send police and first responders to the scene of your accident. If it is a hit and run accident, you need to call the police, even if no injuries occurred. Some states require you to call the police if there is any property damage (which there almost always is in a car accident).
You’ll typically need a police report for your insurance claim and if you hire an attorney, they will also want a copy of the police report.
Noting the name and badge number of the police officers who respond is helpful. You’ll also need to get information from the officers on how to get a copy of the police report and when it will be available.
3. Seek Medical Attention
Many car accident injuries don’t manifest themselves immediately. Things like whiplash may not be painful in the hours after the accident as adrenaline may be masking the pain, but may become extremely painful in the following days.
Seeking medical attention after the accident is always smart, even if you think you don’t have any injuries or your injuries are minor. Even if you don’t go to the emergency room right away, going the next day can also help document any injuries.
When you seek medical attention, keep all records that you receive. Your attorney will want them as will your insurance company. Follow the guidance of your doctor and make sure you abide by any treatment plans they recommend.
4. Document the Accident and Damage
If you don’t have severe injuries or any injuries at all, take the time while you are waiting for police to arrive to document the accident. Take photos (and a video) of the accident scene, the damage, and any injuries you have. Try to take close-up photos as well as wider photos of the entire scene.
Make a note on your phone or write down any details that you can remember, including the day and time of the accident, the location, the weather conditions, and any other important details.
For a hit and run accident, try to remember any details you can about the other car and driver, such as:
- The license plate number (even a partial plate number helps)
- The make, model, and color of the other car
- Any distinguishing characteristics of the other car (stickers, unique features, etc.)
- Damage to the other car
- Which direction the other vehicle was going
- Physical description of the driver and any passengers
Any details you have about the other car and driver can help police find them and charge them for leaving the scene of the accident. This also means that your insurance company can seek damages from them and you’ll also want this information if you hire an attorney and choose to file a lawsuit.
5. Gather Contact Information
In addition to the names and badge numbers of the officers who respond, get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident as well. Their information will typically be included in the police report, but you’ll want these details for your own records as well.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company
You will need to contact your insurance company after the accident. If you are in a no-fault state, they will cover your injuries and the damage to your vehicle, but if you are in a fault state, the insurance companies will determine who is at fault and who is responsible for any medical expenses and vehicle damage.
If it’s a hit and run, though, there is a high chance that the other driver doesn’t have insurance. In this case, your insurance company will be the one to pay for your expenses and they will also go after the other driver, especially if they are located.
7. Contact a Hit and Run Lawyer
If the other driver is located, they will likely face a traffic ticket or even criminal charges depending on the nature of the hit and run. You should consider contacting a hit and run lawyer to represent you, as your insurance company will go after the other driver to reimburse them for the damage to your vehicle and medical expenses, but that compensation goes to the insurance company, not to you.
You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit and get compensation for things like pain and suffering, loss of future wages, and other damages.
What to Do After a Hit and Run to Get What You Are Entitled To
Now that you know what to do after a hit and run, you can file this information in the back of your mind. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it, but if you have experienced an accident, you should do what you can to protect yourself and make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to.
Contact the attorneys at Sweet Law for a free consultation. Our lawyers specialize in auto accident cases, personal injuries, and wrongful death cases.