Many drivers are involved in a hit and run car accident every year. Most of the accidents go unreported, and hundreds more go unresolved. Guilty drivers usually leave the scene of an accident, if they have no insurance or no drivers’ license. Both of these are criminal acts that can lead the guilty party to jail. If you happen to be the victim of a hit and run accident, do not treat the matter yourself.
The complications of any motor vehicle accident are significantly compounded when an involved driver leaves the scene of the accident. If you caused an accident, what would you do? Would you panic and leave, or save yourself the likely hardship of additional legal consequences by staying at the scene, reporting the event, and doing your best to settle the situation? The answer should be clear: stay tuned.
There are vital steps you should take if you are ever involved in an accident where the other driver flees the scene:
- Even if you are able, do not follow the other driver. Remain at the scene of the accident and call the policemen. Chasing a driver could cause further injury to yourself- it could also disqualify you from claiming your insurance in the case you have to use the underinsured/uninsured driver section of your policy.
- Try to get as many details concerning the hit and run driver’s vehicle as you can. Make, model, color can all help determine the culprit of the accident, particularly if the driver was intoxicated. Drunk drivers are often repeated offenders, and their vehicles may be on law enforcement watch lists.
- Rely on the aid of witnesses. You may be in shock too much to know what happened, but excellent witnesses can help identify the situation and the at-fault driver. If other drivers stop to check on you, ask them to stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive and can record their account of the accident and their personal information.
- Purchase under/uninsured motorist coverage from your insurance. Sadly, many at-fault drivers in hit and run accidents may never be identified, especially if there were no other witnesses. Underinsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy can still cover your injuries if the at-fault driver is not identified. This coverage is a minimal cost for the protection it gives you and should always be a part of your insurance coverage.
- Talk with your attorney. An expert car accident attorney can help you determine your best course of action- if it is pursuing the at-fault driver or trying to file a claim with your own insurance.
Hit and run accidents can be devastating for families, particularly in wrongful death situations. Not only have you lost a loved one, but you are unsure of who is responsible. In situations of death, a criminal investigation should be undertaken. If there is enough information about the other vehicle, the police may be able to issue search warrants to search a vehicle for damage or even DNA that would identify the at-fault driver.
In cases such as these, you should promptly retain an lawyer who is knowledgeable in hit and run accidents, wrongful death, and criminal law.