If you are ever in a car accident, one of the most important things you can do is exchange personal details and insurance information with the other driver. This lets you easily identify the other party in your crash and highlights who you should contact for follow-up.
While an exchange of details is ideal, this isn’t possible when you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident. These incidents are particularly frustrating and happen frequently. 25% of accidents in Florida involve a hit-and-run driver, showing that fleeing drivers are not uncommon and you must be ready to protect yourself should you encounter one.
This begins with how you manage a hit-and-run accident, which will be a little different than if the other driver had remained at the scene. We have some great tips to get you started on this below.
Remain At The Scene
An important place to start is ensuring that you remain at the scene after a hit-and-run accident.
Even if the other driver takes off, you are still legally required to stay at the scene. Opting to follow the other driver or go home can create doubt about who is at fault in the accident. This is significant because the determination of fault is used to determine whose insurance needs to pay out for an accident claim.
On the other hand, leaving an accident is dangerous because you don’t know the full extent of injuries you’ve sustained and any damage to your car. Choosing to drive in these conditions can exacerbate the situation and cause further injuries and damage.
Not only that, but you never know who a hit-and-run driver is. If someone is willingly breaking the law by fleeing a crash, then there’s a decent chance they’re trying to evade the law for other reasons as well.
You do not want to get in between a criminal and their freedom because they’ve already shown they will disregard your safety by leaving a crash they caused with you. Instead, let a hit-and-run driver make poor decisions alone and do the right thing yourself by staying at the scene.
Call The Police
It is also crucial to call the police if another driver leaves the scene of an accident.
The authorities are typically involved in any crashes that result in injuries or vehicular damage that exceed a threshold of $500-$1,000 depending on the state. With a hit-and-run incident, the police must be involved because a crime has now been committed.
Additionally, contacting the police allows you to have proof that you were a victim of a hit-and-run accident. This will be necessary to establish your innocence when talking to insurance or if pursuing a legal case.
It can be confusing and overwhelming when another driver leaves the scene. With authorities there, you can let them lead the way so you can focus on mentally and physically regrouping from the incident.
Collect Documentation And Evidence
When you’re able to comfortably move around, you’ll need to collect any relevant evidence and documentation of the accident.
This means taking photos of the crash from all angles, looking for any witnesses and taking their statements, and noting down any details you can remember about the other car. Also, try to locate any camera footage from nearby traffic cameras, local businesses, or a dashcam if you have one.
All of this information is essential to support your claims by physically relaying the accident and its surrounding circumstances.
With this in mind, the more evidence you can gather, the better and easier it will be to prove your innocence and potentially locate the other driver.
Seek Medical Treatment
Another key step after a hit-and-run crash is to seek medical treatment for your injuries.
This is important for your overall health and physical recovery, but it is also necessary for illustrating how serious the accident was. When you file a claim with insurance or pursue a legal case, you’ll need to show the impact of the accident and how it has affected your life.
Your injuries are one of the most direct results of a hit-and-run crash and should be thoroughly documented to be included in the evaluation of a settlement offer you receive. Ensure that you visit a doctor in a timely fashion after an accident to avoid any complications by proving that your injuries were caused by the crash.
Contact Your Insurance
A final important step is to contact your insurance.
You should always speak to your insurance company after any accident, but it is especially beneficial when the other driver flees. When this happens, your insurance company is the only contact number you’ll have to inform of the event.
While accidents generally involve compensation from the other driver’s insurance (if they are at fault), a hit-and-run crash may never result in finding the guilty driver. In turn, you’ll still need a way to recover your losses.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim for damages under your insurance. This is not ideal because your insurance rates may increase, but it offers a last resort should the other party never be found.
At the very least, your insurance company can provide support during the immediate moments after an accident in the form of towing, arranging new transportation, and providing recommendations on how you should proceed.
Hit-and-run accidents are especially hard to navigate because you cannot communicate with the other driver. Instead, you must rely on the accident scene itself to provide clues about who caused your crash.
While keeping a level head can be difficult after a hit-and-run, you must focus on managing the situation effectively. This entails remaining at the scene, calling the police, collecting documentation and evidence of the accident, seeking medical treatment, and contacting your insurance.
How you handle the first few minutes, hours, and days after a hit-and-run crash is crucial to determining your ability to protect yourself from further losses. Keep this in mind as you focus on the details in the moment to ensure a smoother transition back to your normal life.
Featured image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik.