When traveling things can get wild. This is what you do if someone hits your car and flees the scene.
When you’re involved in a car accident, all parties involved in the accident are legally obligated to stick around and wait for the proper authorities to arrive at the scene to gather statements and file an accident report. If suddenly leaves prematurely right after an accident takes place and even before the authorities arrive, then it is considered as a hit and run accident.
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Being on the receiving end of a car accident is infuriating enough. Being on the receiving end and watching the other driver speed off and leave the scene is even more frustrating. Unfortunately, it happens a lot.
A hit-and-run accident occurs when one driver flees the scene of a car accident before providing help, information, or waiting around for the authorities to arrive. Despite being highly illegal, the data shows that hit-and-run incidents are more common than ever before.
According to a national AAA study, hit-and-runs now account for over 5 percent of all traffic fatalities (and there’s a 7.2 percent increase in these accidents each year). Fleeing drivers account for as many as 20 percent of pedestrian crash fatalities. In total, more than 737,000 hit-and-run crashes occur each year. Fatalities are up more than 60 percent over the past decade.
Hit-and-run accidents can be caused by any number of factors, but are usually underscored by fear, anxiety, and/or embarrassment. In some cases, drivers flee because they’ve been drinking and/or they have outstanding warrants that they don’t want to be exposed. But in any case, it’s illegal.
How to Respond if You’re in a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident, it’s important that you respond appropriately in order to protect your own best interests. Here are a few steps to take:
- Notify Authorities
The very first step is to pick up the phone and call 911. Let them know that there’s been an accident (and if there was anyone injured in the wreck). It’s also important to give them key details and let them know that the other driver has fled the scene.
By letting the authorities know that it’s a hit-and-run accident, you’ll actually speed up their response time. A hit-and-run will typically take priority over other “normal” accidents between cooperative drivers.
- Gather Evidence
While you’re waiting on the authorities to arrive on the scene, do your best to gather and document as much evidence as you possibly can. This may include:
- Find out if there are any witnesses who saw the accident and/or were able to put eyes on the driver who fled the scene. Gather their statements and contact information. (This will prove helpful if the police or insurance company need to reach them for an official statement.)
- Take pictures and video of the scene to preserve evidence.
- Record notes on your phone’s notepad (or via the audio recorder feature). Explain exactly what happened in as much detail as you can. These details are extremely sharp right now, but will fade over time.
It’s better to gather “too much” evidence than not have enough. You can always discard anything that’s not helpful at a later date and time. For now, focus on documenting every possible detail.
- Hire a Lawyer
Hit-and-run accidents can be complicated. This is not a situation where you want to represent yourself and try to negotiate with insurance companies on a DIY basis. You need a skilled personal injury attorney.
An attorney plays a key role in investigating a hit and run, asking the right questions, tracking down the right people, and proving the right factors in order to obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. Look for someone who is skilled, experienced, and who specializes in hit-and-runs.
- File the Proper Insurance Claim
Make sure you report the accident to your insurance company. Speak with your attorney to verify the proper type of insurance claim to file, since the other driver’s insurance information isn’t available. Try to file the claim within 24 hours if possible. (Though you typically have up to 30 days to do so.)
Adding it All Up
If you ever find yourself on the raw end of a hit-and-run, knowing how to respond in the appropriate manner could mean the difference between absorbing the costs yourself and bringing the right party to justice.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better idea of how to respond correctly. Good luck!
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