No one gets into their car expecting to have an accident. But, unfortunately, it happens. And no one expects to get in an accident only to have the other driver speed away. But, unfortunately, that happens too. It’s important to learn what to do in a hit-and-run accident before you ever find yourself in that situation.
When a driver leaves the scene of an accident without stopping to help an injured person or before exchanging contact information with others involved, it is considered a hit-and-run accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal, regardless of who was at fault and regardless of how much damage there is.
Most people who leave the scene of an accident do so because they believe they have a lot to lose. They may not have a license or insurance. They may have a warrant out for their arrest. Or they may have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But leaving only makes things worse if they are caught later.
If you’re the one left behind in a hit-and-run accident, it is especially frustrating. But there are things you can do to lessen the blow.
What should I do in a hit-and-run situation?
- The first thing to know is do not attempt to chase the fleeing driver. Not only does it potentially put you in danger, but it makes it harder to pinpoint details of the accident when the police do arrive. Stay put.
- Gather as much information as possible right away. Information like the make and model of the car and its license plate number is especially helpful. If you were able to see the other driver, jot down a description of him or her. If the car had any unique or identifying characteristics, write those down, too.
- Call the police as soon as possible. The sooner you call the police, the more likely they will be able to track down the fleeing driver. You will also need a police report filed to serve as official documentation of the incident for your insurance company.
- Write down the details of the accident. Describe the road conditions, weather conditions, and what exactly happened to cause the accident. Take pictures of the accident scene.
- Talk to witnesses. Witness accounts can be especially useful in hit-and-run accidents. They can provide details and help prove your allegations. Encourage them to stay until police arrive so they can give a statement to the police.
- Talk to the police when they arrive. Give them your statement and follow their instructions.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
How do the police find hit-and-run drivers?
Police work quickly to gather whatever information is available at the scene to help them identify and locate the hit-and-run driver. They will take your statement and also talk to witnesses who can describe the car and driver. Sometimes the accident damage itself will provide clues, such as paint color left behind or the location of damage. There may be videos of the accident available from nearby businesses with surveillance or cell phones of witnesses. If you’re lucky, this footage may catch the license plate number of the fleeing car.
If there has been a serious injury or death resulting from a hit-and-run accident, police may release information about the accident to the public through news outlets and social media. As word spreads, sometimes people come forward with more information.
Police are not always able to locate the driver of a hit-and-run accident. The more serious the damage is, the more likely it is that they will find the suspect. Having an experienced attorney on your team can also increase the chances of finding the driver who fled.
If you are ever left behind in a hit-and-run accident, we may be able to help you recover damages for your injuries and losses. Contact our office for a free consultation.