Hit-And-Run Auto Accident What Steps Should I Take Next?
Hit-and-runs are those accidents where at least one of the involved individuals flees the scene before providing any or sufficient information or aiding other individuals who participated in the accident. Hit-and-runs also describe car crashes where (at least) one of the involved parties fails to report what happened adequately. Worst of all, hit-and-run auto accidents often lead to delays or a complete absence of timely medical attention to victims.
According to data posted by the NHTSA, fatalities in hit-and-run crashes are increasing dramatically. Statistics show there were 2,049 fatalities resulting from hit-and-run accidents back in 2016. That number, however, has risen to as many as 2,564 in 2020, marking an increase of almost 25% over four years. Moreover, nearly 24% of all pedestrian fatalities that occurred in 2020 resulted from hit-and-run accidents. As you can see, hit-and-runs are becoming ever more prevalent. For this reason, it is crucial to understand how to act if you have participated in a hit-and-run auto crash.
Firstly, it is more than understandable to be confused as to what should happen next and how to receive compensation for your injuries. After all, filing a personal injury claim is challenging when you do not know who is responsible for the accident. With that in mind, hit-and-runs should be treated the same way as a regular auto accident. Even though there is no present individual you can identify as the at-fault party, you are still required to prove that the accident is not your fault and that you deserve financial compensation.
Read below to find out more about the steps you need to take when you are involved in a hit-and-run-related accident.
1. Try and Identify the Other Driver
Sadly, law enforcement officers are rarely able to catch hit-and-run drivers. However, you can drastically increase your chances of finding the responsible driver by writing down as much information as you can immediately after the incident. Try to remember the color of the vehicle, the model, etc. Of course, it is always best if you could provide a full or partial license plate number as well.
2. Contact the Police
Make sure you wait at the scene until the police arrive. If there were pedestrians or other witnesses to the crash, you should ask them for any information they can provide. You can also check the local shops for security cameras, as that will help law enforcement officers to find the responsible party. Do not forget to provide the police with the memo you have written about the accident (check step #1).
3. Seek Medical Help
Even if you consider that your injuries are minor and that you do not require immediate medical assistance, it is an absolute must to get checked in a hospital. After all, it is crucial not only for your overall health but it will also help you when filing your personal injury claim. Visiting a doctor after an accident shows that you take things very seriously and will help prove that you deserve compensation.
4. Recover Damages From a Hit-and-Run Crash
In a traditional car crash, the at-fault party’s insurance will pay the damages caused to your property and to your health. Things become much more complicated with a hit-and-run accident, though. That is why your best option is to contact an experienced attorney. They will provide all the information you need and help you prepare your personal injury claim.
At Legal Chiefs, we are at your disposal whenever you seek professional legal assistance. We are responsible for matching the most suitable attorneys with each customer, helping you go through legal processes more efficiently than ever before.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your first and foremost action following an accident is to stay calm, check if you or anyone else involved has been injured, and call the police. Get the name and contact information of all parties involved in the accident as well as any witnesses of the event. To document the damage, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles, and your injuries. It’s important not to admit liability until you hire an attorney because they will conduct a thorough investigation to establish the driver at fault.
Right after a car accident, you may feel fine, but injuries can surface days, weeks, and even months later. That’s why it’s good to see a doctor even if you don’t believe you were injured in the accident. Your doctor can recognize issues or injuries that won’t immediately become apparent to you and alert you to warning signs of injuries that may arise due to the accident. If you fail to treat your injuries within a certain period of time, you may forfeit your right to get reimbursement for future medical costs. The general rule is not to settle auto accident claims without having been examined by a medical professional.
In most cases, you won’t have to go to court. The majority of auto accident claims are resolved outside of court after negotiating the terms with the insurer. Most insurance companies generally try to settle claims as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible, so it’s wise to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf.
In addition to taking pictures of the accident scene and taking the contact information of the involved parties and witnesses, your detailed explanation of how the accident happened is also necessary to file a claim. Law enforcement reports of the accident will also serve as crucial evidence in your claim.
Many factors determine the driver at fault in an auto accident case. Do not accept any part of the blame until the investigation has concluded. Even if the investigation finds that you are partially at fault, you may still be entitled to receive compensation.
There are cases when the victim also shares part of the blame for an accident. If, for example, you were driving five to ten mph over the speed limit when the accident happened, this would have limited your reaction time, and you could likely be considered a negligent driver even if you weren’t the one to cause the crash. Different states have different ways of settling auto accident claims where more than one driver is at fault. So it’s best to check the specific laws in your state (or the state where the accident took place) or discuss the matter with your auto accident injury lawyer.
It happens surprisingly often that people get into an auto accident where the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance. In these situations, it’s wise to have an auto insurance policy that comes with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. That way, if you get into an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you will still be able to file your claim under the UM coverage you have with your own insurance company. Your insurer will then process the claim following the same process as it would for an opposing insurer. The only difference is that the claim will be against your UM coverage and not against another driver.
Likewise, if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident where the responsible driver fled the scene before you could take their information, you can again seek compensation from your UM coverage.
Suppose you suffered injuries after an auto accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence. In that case, there are two main types of damages that you may seek compensation for: compensatory (a.k.a. monetary) and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are the most common type of damages in a personal injury claim, and they often include:
● Current and future medical bills
● Property damage
● Emotional duress
● Lost wages
● Loss of enjoyment of life
● Loss of future earnings potential
On the other hand, punitive damages are much rarer, but they can occur in situations where the vehicle manufacturer is to blame.