According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a hit-and-run accident, in which at least one driver flees the scene before police arrive, occurs approximately every 43 seconds in the United States. More than 2,000 fatalities were caused in 2015 by hit-and-run drivers. Hit-and-run accidents do not only affect motorists; many pedestrians and bicyclists are also victims of these crashes.
There is a pervasive myth that you cannot collect any damages if you were hit by a hit-and-run driver.
This is untrue, but the persistence of this belief probably costs drivers millions of dollars every year. The fact is that even if the driver is not caught, you can, in many cases, collect from your own insurance company or that of a third party, who will then take the responsibility of finding and seeking compensation from the hit-and-run driver.
The reason that many people believe that you cannot collect in these accidents probably stems from the idea that the driver who caused the accident would not have left the scene if he or she had insurance, a license, or both. While this is certainly the case in some situations, it is not always true. Furthermore, your uninsured motorist coverage should pay at least a portion of your damages even without compensation from the disappearing driver.
Do you know what to do if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident? If you are not sure or need a refresher, read on.
How To Handle A Hit-and-Run
If you are hit by a driver who flees the scene, take the following steps:
- Stay where you are. It is a natural impulse to try to chase down a fleeing driver, but this is not a good idea. First, you could cause more damage to your own or someone else’s vehicle. Second, you are disrupting the scene of the crime, which may make it difficult for investigators to understand how the accident happened. Finally, because you do not know the driver or what his or her intentions are, you could be placing yourself in danger. It is a better idea to stay in your vehicle, unless you are in danger, and wait for the police.
- Demand medical attention. It is easy to think that you can just brush off minor injuries, but these often turn into more persistent problems. If you are asked if you would like medical attention, you should always agree. Refusing medical help can come back to haunt you later if you must file a personal injury claim.
- Give the police all the information you have. If possible, try to get a photo of the car. If that is impossible, try to remember any information about the car and driver you can, especially notable features like the license plate and other distinguishing features such as broken windows or mirrors, major dents and abrasions, and odd paint combinations.
Once you have given your statement and received medical help, report the accident immediately to your insurance company. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you will want to begin a claim right away. This claim should include your medical bills and other expenses as well as the estimate to fix your car.
If the driver is found, you may also need to file a personal injury claim. For a hit-and-run case, you want an attorney with plenty of experience. At Barber & Associates, we have spent many years helping victims of all types of accidents. Call us today to talk about how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries and damages.