A hit and run is an act where a person causing property damage, injury, or death, flees the scene or refuses to stop after a car crash has occurred. In most states, a hit and run is considered a misdemeanor or a felony.
If the hit and run only caused property damage, it is often considered a misdemeanor. However, if the accident involves injury to a person, you will likely face charges for a felony hit-and-run. Perpetrators of this crime encounter severe legal consequences as authorities do not take this case lightly.
However, in hindsight, victims of hit and run accidents are often left perplexed and traumatized. When involved in such a mishap, you may become confused about what to do after. Still, it would be conducive if you remind yourself not to panic in such a situation.
No matter how overwhelming the situation may be, you must keep your composure and remember the following things when caught in a hit-and-run accident.
Gather and record important information
If the car that hit you hurriedly flees the scene, you must make an effort to record important information that could be helpful in reporting the incident to authorities. You can take photos or take mental notes of important details of the accident.
Perhaps, if the incident involves two vehicles on an open highway, take a picture or write down the plate number, color, and model of the car. These details will help authorities locate the faulting driver.
Remember not to attempt to go after the guilty driver. This initiative will put you in danger. Other than being unsafe, you could lose critical witnesses if you also leave the scene at that moment. Hence, it is advised to stay where the incident occurred and try to get as much information as you can gather from nearby establishments and bystanders.
If the incident involves your unattended parked car, you may check available CCTV or dashcam footage to identify the fleeing vehicle. You may also ask for information from bystanders or establishment owners who may have witnessed the incident.
Furthermore, document the damages caused to your vehicle, as these will be necessary pieces of evidence for future claims against the guilty driver.
If anyone has injuries, call 911 for medical help
Some hit and run accidents may cause only fender-bender damages, which do not necessitate medical aid. However, some hit-and-run accidents may also cause slight to severe injuries to you or your passenger(s).
When this happens, don’t touch anything and call 911 as soon as possible. Don’t forget to request immediate medical assistance if there are any injuries in the scenario.
Report the incident to police authorities
When you encounter a hit-and-run accident, you must notify the police as soon as possible. Immediately reporting to them provides a higher chance to locate and apprehend the guilty driver in no time.
Once the authorities question you, give them all the relevant information you have gathered. Be cooperative when the officers ask for your name, exact location, time of the incident and other circumstances related to the crash. Not only will the information be needed for the investigation, but it will also be relevant in making the official accident report.
Besides, it is recommended that you must report the hit and run to authorities within 24 hours. Otherwise, the incident may be deemed as an “at fault” loss by the insurance company, which means that the accident could create an impact on your car insurance premium.
Notify the Insurance Company
Other than reporting the incident to the police, you should also notify your car insurance company immediately. Notify them of the hit-and-run incident within 24 hours. This step will be beneficial when you decide to file the hit-and-run damage under a not-at-fault insurance claim.
After reporting, the insurance company will process the claim. Some insurance companies will require you to await the issuance of authorization before you can proceed with vehicle repairs. While on it, you may also call your licensed car insurance broker to assist you with your other insurance needs and to answer your inquiries on insurance coverage in a hit and run case.
Consider filing an uninsured motorist claim
Hit and run accidents are very tricky since the guilty party has already fled the scene. That being said, there will be a chance that the liable driver may never be apprehended nor identified. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to sue them in court.
However, failing to sue the guilty driver does not mean that you will be unable to recover any compensation for the damages you have suffered. In some state jurisdictions like Texas, you can file an uninsured motorist claim for injuries or damages that you have experienced during a hit and run accident if you carry that insurance.
Consult an Attorney
When filing a claim to any type of car crash incident, it is always best to consult a lawyer first. It is recommended to consult a car accident attorney when seeking indemnification for damages and injuries you suffered arising from car accidents.
These lawyers are knowledgeable of relevant laws that will help you recover from those injuries. Lawyers will also ensure that the statute of limitations and deadlines for filing claims are followed so as not to risk losing the case.
Since hit-and-run cases are very tricky, these attorneys are necessary to help you get a favorable outcome in your claim. Hiring attorneys to handle your troubles will help you feel at ease, despite the trauma that the hit-and-run accident may have caused.
Indeed, hit-and-run accidents are scary occurrences that can shake you up and leave you confused. However, it would always be best if you do not let emotions get the better of you during this situation. You must try your best to help yourself and remember these things that you need to do when caught up in a hit-and-run incident. Hence, always remember to put on a brave face and observe the things you must do when caught in a hit-and-run accident.
If you have been injured in a car wreck, contact The O’Hara Law Firm for a free consultation. Patrick O’Hara is a car accident attorney that handles motor vehicle collision cases in Houston and other surrounding areas. The O’Hara Law Firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis. Call us at 832-956-1138.
Kevin Moore is a Law student and contributing writer for various magazines, sites, and law publications. When he’s off duty from school and work duties, Kevin loves to hop from one historical museum to another to get his cultural fix.