Being in an accident is unfortunate. Being in an accident where the other party leaves the scene, a hit-and-run accident is a lot worse. While everyone would like to think everyone would do the right thing, unfortunately, that is not always the case.
There are, however, specific steps you should take if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident both at the scene and afterward.
The most important thing you can do afterward is to talk to a qualified accident attorney as soon as possible.
Here is some other advice regarding what to do at the scene and afterward.
Note Any ID Information
Take note of the vehicle that was being driven. Memorize the vehicle’s color, make, and model if possible. Also, take note of any damage you see, whether it was a result of the accident or was there before the accident. The more you notice and can relay to the police, the better the chances that law enforcement can track down the person fleeing the accident.
Your insurance company will want to know this information as well. While they will likely cover you (if you have qualifying insurance), they will also pursue their own investigation to see if they can get the hit-and-run driver’s insurance to pay for the damages.
Recite the License Plate
The one identifier that is better evidence than your description of the vehicle is the license plate. Recite it out loud to yourself repeatedly so that you remember it when the police interview you. Write it down if you can, in addition to reciting the information. If you experienced an injury due to the accident and cannot write it down, ask someone to do it for you.
A license plate is one way the police have to figure out who was involved in an accident immediately. Law enforcement can alert other police in the area to “be on the lookout” (BOLO) for the vehicle.
Getting the license plate also gives the police an address to focus on and a name that they can use as part of their investigation. With the license plate, police will quickly follow up on the address and visit the location that is listed as the address of the owner of the vehicle.
Identify and Talk to Witnesses for Police and Insurance
Unless you have experienced an injury, try and identify as many witnesses to the accident as you can. Talk with them and see if any noticed any identifying information about the vehicle that fled or took note of the license plate. Since cell phones with cameras are now everywhere, ask all present at a hit-and-run accident if they took pictures of the accident scene.
In addition, get witnesses’ identification information if possible as well. Your hit-and-run attorney will likely contact anyone that witnessed the accident, whether they noticed the hit-and-run driver, to see if they would make a credible witness should your case go to court. Collecting that information is also important for your insurance claim.
File a Police Report
Regardless of the information you have collected, file a police report detailing the accident. Getting your site on official record will help you with the police investigation as well as help with any resistance your insurance carrier displays.
The report is official verification of the accident and the circumstances you are in. The report is particularly helpful if you have any injury claims for your insurance carrier or if you sue the other party once they are identified and caught. That report will formulate part of the foundation you will use in any negotiation or court hearing to establish your injuries. Your personal injury or accident attorney also uses that information to build your case.
If the hit-and-run perpetrator is not caught, you must file a claim with your insurance under the “uninsured motorist provision.” The police report is the document the insurance company will use if the perpetrator is found and arrested. Because any court case will be incredibly complex, the facts in a police report are valuable in establishing what happened.
What if You Fled the Scene?
If you committed the hit-and-run violation, your best approach is to hire a qualified attorney and follow their criminal defense advice to the letter. You must turn yourself in, but the attorney’s advice and presence will help you through.
Hire a Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney
Your best decision, once you have followed the “at the scene” advice of a hit-and-run, is to seek a medical examination and then hire an experienced accident attorney. An expert in accident cases, including hit-and-run, can help you with any injury or insurance issues as well as work with the police on the investigation and documenting any evidence.
If you have been in a hit-and-run, call an expert accident lawyer today.