Hit and run accidents happen when a driver crashes into another vehicle, a pedestrian, or private property, then leaves without identifying themselves or helping the injured. Most alarming is the big jump in the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed by hit and run drivers.The problem is the nature of a hit and run accident. Most drivers aren’t caught – they hit, run, and hide.
In many cases, the driver leaves so quickly the injured victim doesn’t get a good look at the driver or the car before it’s gone. Without identifying information, the driver usually gets away. In the aftermath of the accident, injured victims are naturally stunned and upset. There will be medical treatment and therapy bills piling up while the victim is too hurt to work. They need compensation for their losses.Hit and run accidents don’t have to mean financial ruin, even if the guilty driver is never found. Here’s what you need to know about getting compensation.
Immediately after a hit and run accident, what you do next will protect your physical health and protect your future claims for compensation. Your actions will create an important record of the accident and serve as evidence that your injuries and property damage are the direct result of a hit and run.
1. STAY WHERE YOU ARE
Never try to chase the hit and run driver. It’s dangerous for you and could undermine your claim by creating doubt about what happened and where it happened.
2. REPORT THE HIT AND RUN
Tell the dispatcher you are injured, and if anyone else is hurt. If you’re on a cell phone, give the dispatcher your cell number in case you’re disconnected. Describe the vehicle that hit you in as much detail as possible.
3. WRITE DOWN EVERY DETAIL
Write down everything you can remember about the car and driver who hit you. Dictate everything into your cell phone if you’re too shaky to write. Don’t leave anything out.
The police can use every scrap of information to find the at-fault driver. Write or record a separate list of details from any passenger who was in your car.Make detailed notes about your experience of the crash including fear and pain. Keep a diary of your daily struggles during treatment, and how the hit and run accident has affected your quality of life.Describe the direction the car was traveling, if it had just turned a corner, and which way the driver headed after the accident.
Details about the driver include:
- Estimated age
- Was the driver wearing a hat, glasses, beard or any other feature?
- Was the driver smoking?
- Was anything tossed from the car as it fled from the scene?
- Passengers in the car? How many?
4. MEDICAL ATTENTION
Never refuse medical attention at the scene. You could have serious injuries like brain trauma or internal bleeding and not even know it. Shock and distress after a hit and run accident can mask injury symptoms.
5. FIND WITNESSES
Finding an independent witness to the accident may be crucial to your claim. Many insurance companies require an “arms-length third-party” to verify a hit and run accident before they’ll pay your claim. That means you need someone who doesn’t have any connection to you to state they saw the accident happen. Testimony from a passenger in your car usually won’t be enough.
Witnesses may have information that will help track down the hit and run driver. If a helpful person saw the crash, ask them to write down what they saw, including any details about the car or driver.
6. TAKE PICTURES
Photographs and video footage can be convincing evidence in your injury claim and potential future prosecution of the hit and run driver. If you’re able, use your cell phone or another device to take as many pictures as possible of your damaged vehicle or bicycle, and the area around the collision.
Get close-up pictures of debris in the road and the damaged area on your vehicle. Paint scrapes and broken car parts from the other car can help with the police and insurance investigation of the collision.
Photographs of your injuries can help an injury claim or lawsuit against the hit and run driver. Pictures of your torn and bloodied clothing, twisted bicycle, or you in a hospital bed can all be compelling evidence of your injuries, pain and suffering.