A victim of a hit and run collision can be left with a lot of questions. Can I find the driver who hit me? Is there a way that I recover for my injuries if I can’t find him? Is a hit and run a felony? Should I call the police? Do I need to hire a lawyer for hit and run accidents? This article will answer many of those questions and help you understand hit and run consequences for both the driver and the victim.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Health and Safety
Your health and safety should always be your number one priority. Even low-speed impacts generate tremendous forces that are capable of causing severe injury. Take a second after a hit and run car accident to ensure that you are not severely injured. If you have any doubts, call for help and remain still. Nothing is more important than your health. Also take a moment to evaluate your surroundings. If remaining where you are poses an immediate risk to your safety, move elsewhere.
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Step 2: Document Everything
The stress of an accident can wreak havoc on your memory, which is why it is important for you to write everything down and gather evidence to support your hit and run case. Write down any information that you can recall or gather from what happened. For example, the color, make, model and license plate (even partial) of the vehicle that hit you, what road you were on, which direction you were traveling, nearby businesses, etc. If safe to do so, take pictures or videos of the scene on your cell phone. If anyone saw the accident, be sure to write down their name and number. If you later decide to hire a hit and run attorney, sharing this information with your lawyer will be very helpful in building your case.
Step 3: Call the Police
Many victims of hit and run car accidents feel it is futile to call the police as the other driver is (obviously) no longer at the scene. HOWEVER, a police report can make or break a hit and run case. Many insurance policies do not permit victims to recover under their own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage if there is no police report. Moreover, the police often canvas the area for evidence such as surveillance video, debris and potential witnesses. Hit and run drivers are not only responsible for the injuries and damage they cause, but they can also face charges for fleeing from the scene of an accident.
Step 4: Collect Debris
Many components of a car have the vehicle identification number (VIN number) etched into them. Based on this VIN number we may be able to locate the owner of the vehicle and their insurance policy. There are important hit and run laws that the driver did not follow and this may be your best chance of finding and making a claim against the vehicle that hit you.
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Step 5: Notify Your Insurance Company
Let’s be honest, no one reads their auto insurance policy. However, there are clauses in most policies that require notice of a hit and run car accident within 30 days of an accident. Some policies extend this 30 day notice requirement to any accident. Failure to notify your insurance company can result in a denial of your uninsured motorist claim, an unexpected hit and run penalty no one wants to deal with. This is why notifying your insurance company is especially important if the other driver caused a hit and run with no insurance.
However, when speaking with the insurance company be wary of the questions they ask. Insurance companies purposely ask misleading or ambiguous questions that are designed to make you seem at fault for the accident so that they may deny your claim. If the facts of the accident leave any room for doubt, it may be best to consult a hit and run lawyer before filing your claim.
Step 6: Contact a Hit and Run Attorney
The hit and run victim attorneys at Morris Bart have access to a number of resources that allow us find vehicle owners and their insurance policies. Those services combined with decades of experience allow attorneys at Morris Bart to offer you the best chance of getting compensated for the injuries you sustained. If you were hurt in a crash caused by a hit and run driver, turn to Morris Bart. A dedicated hit and run lawyer in one of our 15 offices will help you fight for the highest possible settlement. If your case goes to trial, our attorneys have the litigation experience to represent your interests in court. Call 800-205-7284 today to arrange a free consultation.