If you’re the victim of an accident and in particular a hit and run, it can be highly upsetting. You have rights though.
Drivers of cars, trucks, motorcycles and even bikes are responsible for stopping at the scene if they’re involved in an accident. If a hit-and-run driver ignores the laws and flees the location of the accident, then you may be worried you won’t be able to recover damages for the injuries and property damage that occur as a result.
The following are steps to take if you find yourself in a situation where you’re the victim of any kind of hit-and-run accident.
What is a Hit-and-Run?
It’s simple and the name tells most of what you need to know about defining one of these types of accidents.
An accident is a hit-and-run if one party leaves the scene of the crash. The severity of the accident makes no difference in this classification. For example, leaving the scene of a minor accident is still a hit-and-run.
Depending on where you live, the person who flees the scene could face fines, the loss of their license, jail time, and potential criminal charges.
Some of the reasons someone might leave the scene of an accident include if they have no car insurance, they’re breaking the law in some other way, or maybe they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They might not own the vehicle they’re driving at the time of the accident either.
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, there are steps you should take at the scene.
What to Do at the Scene
- Make sure you aren’t seriously hurt. When you’re afraid or in a high-stress situation, you might not even realize your injured at first. Take a moment to calm yourself down and then begin to assess your condition. The most important thing immediately following any kind of accident is making sure that you’re okay and then that anyone else involved is also okay.
- Take a few deep breaths if you aren’t seriously hurt, so you can calm yourself down and take the next steps in a clear-headed way.
- Stay at the scene, and don’t try to chase the other driver or leave the scene. You want to move your car to a safe area if you can, again check to make sure your passengers or anyone else involved is okay, and then if so, begin to gather evidence.
- Record in your phone as many details about the accident as possible while it’s still fresh in your mind. If you remember anything about the vehicle that hit you, record this.
- If there are witnesses around, you should try to get their contact information.
- Call the police. You should always call the police when you’re in an accident, and some states legally require it. The police should respond to the scene and the report they generate helps you begin a paper trail.
- While you’re at the scene, take photos of everything, including the street signs, any surroundings where you are, and your vehicle.
Insurance Coverage for Hit-and-Runs
Once you’ve dealt with the steps above immediately following the accident, then you should contact your insurance company and let them know what happened. They can help you figure out the next steps and how to file a claim appropriately.
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, and the police can find out who did it, then their insurance company may cover the damages.
Many culprits aren’t ever identified though, which means their liability coverage might not cover you.
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, there’s a pretty high likelihood you’ll have to file a claim with your own insurance company. Even when you do, there’s also no guarantee that they’ll cover it.
If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist property damage, this coverage might pay for vehicle repairs or replacement if you were hit by someone with no insurance or limited coverage. In some cases, it also covers unidentified drivers when you’re the victim of a hit-and-run.
Some states require this coverage, and other states don’t offer one or both types.
Collision coverage can cover the cost to repair or replace your vehicle when you’re involved in a collision, including a hit-and-run. With collision coverage, you usually pay a deductible before your coverage kicks in.
You may also have underinsured or uninsured motorist bodily injury protection. If you or your passengers were injured when you’re hit by someone with limited or no insurance coverage or in a hit-and-run, then this coverage could apply to medical expenses, pain, and suffering, and lost income.
Your liability insurance would not cover your medical costs or the cost of your car repairs following a hit-and-run. Liability coverage applies to another person’s expenses if you cause an accident leading to property damage or injuries to them.
If you were in an accident that wasn’t a hit-and-run and someone else was at fault, then their liability coverage would usually compensate you for damages.
In a hit-and-run, if the driver isn’t identified, you aren’t going to have that protection.
It’s a good idea, any time you’re in an accident, to at least talk to a good personal injury attorney. You can ask any questions you might have, and they can help you figure out the best way to receive compensation to cover your damages, including medical damages, and the cost of property damage to your vehicle.
An attorney may be able to identify the best ways for you to pursue compensation if the person who hit you can’t be found.
No one ever wants to be the victim of a hit-and-run, but if you find yourself in that situation, stay calm, call the police, and then take the steps above to deal with the situation.