Unfortunately, many drivers choose to flee the scene after a collision. But what should you do if you’re the victim? In this article, we’ll cover exactly that. We’ll explain everything from why these incidents occur to how to get compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and property damage.
We understand that a hit-and-run accident can be a harrowing experience. That’s why we want to help equip victims of hit-and-runs with the knowledge they need to ensure justice is served. So let’s dive into this important topic.
Definition of a Hit and Run
The term “hit-and-run” refers to a situation where one party is involved in an accident with another vehicle or person, and they leave without providing contact information or rendering aid.
Legally speaking, leaving the scene of an accident this way is a criminal offense, even if there is no vehicle damage and no one is injured.
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Why Someone Might Flee an Accident Scene
Hit-and-run accidents can happen for various reasons, including situations where a driver:
- Is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Does not have a valid driver’s license or insurance.
- Is driving a stolen vehicle.
Some motorists may also flee an accident scene because they fear the consequences, such as facing criminal charges or being sued for damages.
In other cases, the driver may not even realize they have hit someone or something, so they continue without stopping. Regardless of the reason, hit-and-run accidents can be devastating for victims and their families, so it’s important to take action to hold the at-fault driver accountable.
The Moments After a Hit-and-Run
Time is of the essence in these accidents, as law enforcement personnel must work quickly to investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. Instead, take a deep breath and remain calm so you can think clearly about what steps to take next.
While dealing with a hit-and-run incident can seem overwhelming, remaining composed while gathering evidence and reporting every detail you notice can help you obtain justice.
Help is available for victims of hit-and-run accidents, and understanding the best way to approach such incidents will make all the difference. In addition, taking immediate action will give law enforcement officials a better chance of apprehending those responsible.
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Steps To Take at the Accident Scene
Once you’ve gotten your bearings, it’s time to take action.
Here are five steps you can take at the scene of a hit-and-run incident:
- Gather as much information as possible: Take note of any details that could lead authorities to the other driver, such as license plate numbers and vehicle descriptions. If witnesses were present, be sure to get their contact information too.
- Collect evidence: Photographs of the scene and any damage to your vehicle or property can help provide proof in court later on. Obtain statements from anyone who may have witnessed the event.
- Contact law enforcement officials: Get in touch with local police immediately so they can begin investigating the incident. Providing them with all relevant details will expedite this process.
- Take notes: It is helpful to write down everything you remember about what happened during and after the accident, including which direction the other car drove off in, how fast it was going, etc. This information will assist investigators in making a case against whoever fled the scene.
- Don’t panic: Remaining calm is key because panicking only worsens matters. Taking a few deep breaths before calling 911 can help prevent anxiety from taking hold.
Gathering detailed witness accounts and collecting physical evidence is essential for obtaining justice in a hit-and-run case.
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Witnesses and Evidence Collection
After a hit-and-run, witness testimony and evidence collection can be invaluable in helping law enforcement officers identify the other driver. Witnesses present during the accident or those nearby may have seen something that could lead authorities to a suspect.
Even if they don’t remember license plate numbers or provide detailed vehicle descriptions, their accounts of what happened during or after the incident can still be useful to investigators.
In addition to collecting witness statements, taking photographs of the scene is an important step in building a case against the perpetrator. For example, if there are skid marks on the ground from either car, these should be photographed to help establish how fast each vehicle was going before impact.
If you get a good look at the car that fled the scene, note any distinguishing features you remember, such as the color, body type, make, and model, so that police have more clues when tracking down suspects.
Furthermore, writing down the license plate number is ideal since this data identifies who was likely behind the wheel, even if no one saw their face or took their picture.
Contacting Law Enforcement
The next step in dealing with a hit-and-run accident is to contact local law enforcement. It’s crucial to report any damage and provide as much detail about the incident as possible. This will allow the police to launch an investigation quickly and effectively.
All information pertaining to a hit-and-run investigation should be submitted promptly, so law enforcement can apprehend whoever committed this crime.
Here are some tips for working with the police:
- Be prepared: Have all relevant information before calling, such as the license plate numbers, vehicle descriptions, and details on where the collision occurred. It would help if you also had your proof of insurance ready in case an officer asks you to present it.
- Give accurate accounts: Describe what happened during the accident so authorities can better understand the situation. Avoid guessing or speculating when answering questions; stick to facts only.
- Remain at the scene: Don’t leave until told otherwise by police since moving your vehicle could disrupt their efforts in gathering evidence left behind by either car. Additionally, it might be best to refrain from cleaning up debris or personal items, as these may be useful for investigators.
- Document everything: Make sure to document all conversations you have with law enforcement officers in case of a future disagreement about events surrounding the accident.
When you contact local law enforcement, they’ll likely send an investigator to examine the scene further. With enough evidence, authorities can proceed with charges against whoever committed this crime.
Filing a Claim With Your Insurance Company
Once the police have conducted their investigation and gathered as much evidence as possible, it’s time to move on to filing a claim with your insurance company. The claims process can be challenging, so knowing what needs to happen before you begin is ideal.
Gather all Relevant Information
First, you’ll want to prepare the necessary documents, such as accident reports from law enforcement, witness statements, and any photos you have of the accident scene. Having everything in order is critical for receiving compensation from insurers, who typically try to reduce payouts.
Speak With a Claims Adjuster
The next step is speaking with an insurance adjuster regarding how they plan on processing this incident. Different factors may apply, such as whether your auto policy includes uninsured motorist coverage.
It’s important to keep records of all conversations throughout this ordeal. This documentation could come in handy should a dispute arise between you and your insurer.
Contact a Lawyer First
Consider seeking professional legal advice before starting the claims process with your insurance carrier. Doing so can help ensure all paperwork is filled out correctly and increase your chances of receiving full compensation through your uninsured motorist or collision coverage.
Working with an attorney can also help prevent you from saying something to an insurance company representative that could weaken your claim.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Because filing an insurance claim can be complicated, you could benefit from the assistance of an experienced auto accident attorney. Hiring a lawyer will help ensure you receive the maximum compensation in your case.
Because of their expertise in this area of law, a car accident attorney can provide valuable advice and guidance on how best to proceed after being involved in a hit-and-run incident.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
When looking for an attorney to take on your case, do your research beforehand because not all personal injury lawyers have the same experience or qualifications.
It’s important to ask questions during the initial consultation too. Write down anything you discuss during this meeting since you might need this information later. Finally, check reviews from previous clients who’ve worked with the same lawyer.
Outcomes of Hit-And-Run Accidents
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), hit-and-run fatalities are increasing. Even when everyone survives, hit-and-run accidents can have devastating consequences for both victims and perpetrators.
While all 50 states have laws imposing various penalties on those who flee an accident scene, it is still important to understand what consequences an individual may face if found guilty of such a crime.
The specific penalties vary by state and can depend on various factors, such as the severity of the accident and the presence of injuries or fatalities.
In general, those convicted of hit-and-run can face anything from fines and license suspension to imprisonment, depending on the circumstances of the incident. Of course, this is all in addition to any monetary amounts owed to the victims.
In terms of hit-and-run liability, anyone who knowingly leaves the scene without providing the required information can be held responsible for damages caused during the incident, regardless of the accident’s actual cause.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Legal Consequences of Fleeing the Scene of a Hit and Run Accident?
When a driver is involved in a hit-and-run, fleeing the accident scene can have serious legal ramifications. Leaving without first exchanging information with the other parties involved is illegal. Depending on the severity of the incident, drivers could face felony charges if they are found guilty of a hit and run.
Hit-and-run laws exist to ensure that those who perpetrate these criminal acts are held accountable for their actions. Depending on where you live, punishments for fleeing the scene of an accident can range from stiff fines to jail time. Additionally, drivers may be subject to civil liability, including punitive damages.
Not only could drivers suffer financial repercussions due to these accidents, but they may also lose their driving privileges or incur points on their licenses. These consequences could make them ineligible for certain insurance discounts or lead to increases in premiums.
Furthermore, a criminal charge related to fleeing an accident scene can stay on their permanent record indefinitely. So long-term implications may go far beyond the initial punishment.
How Can I Protect Myself From Being Falsely Accused of a Hit and Run Accident?
It may seem like someone accused of a hit-and-run would be exonerated if the other driver flees the scene. However, this isn’t always true; in some cases, those involved in such an accident can still face hefty legal consequences, even if they are innocent.
This unfortunate reality is why drivers must protect themselves from being wrongly implicated in these accidents.
One way to avoid false accusations of fleeing the scene is by taking pictures as soon as possible after an incident occurs. Photos are especially helpful if there is any confusion about what happened or who was responsible for causing the accident.
Also, having photos will show that you were present after the crash and did not flee the scene.
In addition, obtaining witness statements from bystanders or footage from nearby security cameras can help prove your case should anyone accuse you of leaving the scene without exchanging information.
Another strategy for protecting yourself from being blamed for a hit-and-run involves remaining calm in your interactions with police officers.
It might be tempting to become defensive when questioned. However, maintaining a professional demeanor during interactions with law enforcement could make all the difference in determining whether or not charges are ultimately filed against you.
Contact an Attorney
In addition, seeking legal advice before discussing a suspected hit-and-run situation could save you time and money.
You can ensure that your rights remain protected by consulting with a car accident lawyer familiar with local laws about vehicle collisions. A qualified attorney can also help you navigate complicated situations associated with an alleged crime like this one.
What Steps Should I Take if I Am Unable To Identify the Other Driver in a Hit and Run Accident?
Unfortunately, the other driver involved may flee the scene before you can identify them. If you find yourself in this dilemma, there are steps you can take to protect yourself legally and ensure all parties remain safe.
Gather Evidence and Write Everything Down
First, it’s important to collect as much evidence from the scene as possible. This process includes taking pictures or videos of the location and any damage done by the unidentified driver. More importantly, try to jot down anything you remember about the vehicle that fled the scene.
It’s also helpful to write down the license plate numbers of others nearby who may have witnessed what happened; these individuals could provide testimony on your behalf.
Contact Law Enforcement
Once you’ve collected any relevant information at the scene, contact local law enforcement immediately so they can begin their investigation process. Again, be prepared with all pertinent details, such as when the incident occurred and a summary of what transpired.
At this point, it’s best not to discuss fault. Instead, focus on sharing the facts without making assumptions about liability or responsibility. Police officers will determine those matters during their inquiry into the accident.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Keep records of any communication between yourself and law enforcement regarding this event.
- Compile photos that depict damages caused by the collision.
- Request copies of any statements given by witnesses who saw what happened.
- Contact your insurance company and, ideally, an attorney.
These proactive steps can help prevent potential legal issues following an accident involving an unidentified driver.
What Should I Do if I Witness a Hit And Run Accident?
Witnessing a hit-and-run can be daunting and leave you feeling helpless. In addition, you may question what steps to take as the other driver flees the scene, leaving behind injured victims who need help.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can assist with the aftermath of the accident, even if you don’t know who the driver is.
First and foremost, it’s important to report any hit-and-run incidents you witness. Doing so will ensure that necessary medical attention is provided for those affected by the collision and that law enforcement has all the information they need to investigate.
As a hit-and-run witness, there are four key things to remember when reporting an incident:
- Stay at the scene until the police arrive.
- Write down details such as license plate numbers, make and model of vehicles involved, etc.
- Provide your contact information.
- Take photos if possible.
Other Ways To Help
Aside from reporting what you witness, there are other ways you can help victims after a crash occurs. If anyone appears injured due to the accident, call 911 immediately so trained professionals can respond accordingly and provide prompt assistance.
Additionally, offering basic care can benefit those impacted by the crash before emergency services arrive on site. It’s helpful to know how to administer basic first aid before witnessing an accident so that you’re prepared should something like this occur.
Lastly, comforting someone who was recently involved in a traumatic experience can go a long way in helping them recover emotionally from the ordeal. Showing support through words of encouragement or simply being present could make all the difference in how well they cope with the situation.
Is There Any Way To Find Out if a Hit and Run Driver Has Been Caught?
It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that a hit-and-run driver has gotten away. You may feel powerless and frustrated, but there are ways you can find out whether they have been caught and identified by law enforcement.
First, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and local law enforcement agency to request copies of any reports about the incident. These documents might contain information regarding the investigation’s progress.
If police cannot track down the driver quickly, there are still steps you can take to pursue compensation.
Subrogation and Civil Suits
You may have the option of subrogation, which involves the insurance company paying for damages and seeking reimbursement from the at-fault party or their insurance company if their identity is later discovered.
Remember that it is unlikely that an insurance company will cover damages caused by a hit-and-run driver if all you have is liability coverage. Still, you can file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party if their identity is ever revealed.
Tips from Uninvolved Parties
Some communities offer rewards to encourage people to come forward with information that could help identify a hit-and-run driver. Law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and victim advocacy groups typically offer these rewards. They can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the case.
These rewards aim to incentivize witnesses or others with relevant information to come forward more easily and help bring justice to the victim and their families.
Finally, don’t give up hope! With persistence, dedication, and luck, victims of hit-and-run accidents can find closure when their perpetrator is found and brought to justice. Keep looking for updates regarding the progress in your case. You never know when someone’s tip might lead authorities directly towards apprehending them at last!
Get Help From a Personal Injury Attorney
To summarize, hit-and-runs are devastating events that leave victims feeling helpless and alone. However, with enough effort, perseverance, and the help of an experienced attorney, justice can prevail.
Taking immediate action is key if you or a loved one have been the victim of a motor vehicle accident. First, contact law enforcement and seek medical attention immediately. Then, reach out to Simmrin Law Group for help with pursuing compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.