What To Do When You Are Involved in a Hit and Run
By Attorney Brian Dunmire
Involved in an auto accident where the other driver left the scene without exchanging information? Looks like you may have been the victim of a hit-and-run. Unfortunately, these types of collisions leave you with only two options, either use your insurance policy to cover your damages or try to track down the other driver for compensation.
What Qualifies as a Hit-And-Run Accident?
The definition of a hit-and-run varies from state to state and may include other factors. In Florida, if you are involved in an automobile accident, you MUST STOP. Once you have been involved in an automobile accident, you must provide your name, address, driver’s license, car insurance, and car registration information to the other party.
If you are involved in an accident that results in property damage, you are also obligated to stop. If you are involved in an accident that results in injury to another party, you are obligated to stop and provide aid if you are able. Failure to do any of the items listed above may result in you being charged with a hit and run.
What to Do as A Victim of a Hit-And-Run?
First and foremost, asses your and your passenger’s injuries, if they are severe Injuries seek immediate medical attention and provide aide. Always err on the side of caution, it is better to seek help right away and find out you are uninjured than to avoid seeking help and turn out to have a serious injury. Once injuries have been assessed if you are able to, move your vehicle to a safe location away from traffic and call the police to report a hit-and-run.
Sometimes the guilty driver will flee the scene. If they leave the scene of an accident, DO NOT pursue the guilty driver, the last thing you need is to be involved in another accident.
Why Call the Police?
It is always a good idea to get the police involved when it comes to an automobile accident especially hit-and-runs. Getting the police involved is a good idea because:
- The Police have resources when it comes to locating the negligent party.
- The police report will establish that an accident has happened and, that the guilty party fled the scene.
- Your insurance may require a copy of the police report in order to make a claim.
If your injuries are not severe, take this time while you are waiting for the police to arrive to evaluate the crash scene. Assess property damage and write down all details that could be used to identify the guilty driver. Such information can be as simple as which direction the vehicle went. More specific information about the vehicle includes:
- License plate number, even if it’s incomplete
- State, logo, was it a vanity plate
- Vehicle type – Sedan, SUV, Van, Pickup, etc.
- Color, make, model, an estimate of the year
- Cargo and attachments
- Damage (previous or as a result of the accident)
- Noises (Noisy Breaks, loud muffler, distinct horn)
Details about the driver may include:
- Estimated Age
- Driver Build
- Distinct clothing (Hat, glasses, jewelry, cultural wear, etc.)
- Distinct features (Facial hair, scars, birthmarks, etc.)
- Passengers and their description
In order to file a claim against the at-fault party, they will have to be identified if the other driver is not identified then, you will have to file a claim through your policy. It is important to understand if your policy has coverages that would assist; an experienced attorney can review your policy for you.
Hurray! You Found the Guilty Driver!
If the driver is located, their insurance should pay for any damages to your property. The at-fault driver may also have additional coverages
Hire an Attorney: This is perhaps the single most important action you can take following an accident. An experienced attorney is vital to maximizing your recovery efforts if you have been injured or to defend you if you are at fault. The counsel and efforts of an attorney will save you time and money as the case proceeds.
What if the Police Can’t Find the Driver?
Unfortunately, this is a sad reality for many hit-and-run cases; sometimes the criminals simply get away with it. However, it is most certainly not the end of the line for you or your family. You may face an uphill battle, but you have options, which we can assist with.
The first avenue that should be explored is your own insurance policy. Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or medical payments (Medpay) coverage may cover your medical bills and hospital expenses in the case of a hit-and-run. In addition, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may kick in to cover medical bills and other losses related to the car accident.
How Hiring an Attorney Can Help?
Getting the police involved is a great first step, but solely relying on the police to assist in your claim may not be enough. The police will do their best to look out for the fleeing driver, but with everything else, it is not a primary focus. Fortunately, you have options. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist and use their years of experience and resources to help you locate the guilty party. Schedule a free consultation so we can work towards the compensation you deserve.