The attorneys at Alperstein & Diener explain the procedures that individuals should follow if they are a victim of a hit-and-run car accident.
The term “hit-and-run” refers to being involved in a car accident and leaving the scene without stopping to identify yourself, exchange insurance information and provide assistance to anyone who may be injured. Although laws vary across state borders, many states do not require that the hit-and-run occur on a highway or public road. For example, many states extend hit-and-run laws to cover parking lot collisions.
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you must face the unfortunate reality that you may not find the person who was responsible. Despite this, there are several steps that you can take in order to maximize your ability to recover financially, mentally and physically from an accident.
- Remain at the scene. Even if you were not at fault, you have the legal obligation to remain at the scene of an accident if you were involved. If you need to leave the scene to access emergency assistance, you must return to the scene as soon as possible or contact law enforcement officials to inform them of the circumstances.
- Contact the police. Call 911 and let the emergency response officials know about the nature of your accident. Include information such as the location of the accident, the time it occurred and whether or not anyone involved sustained severe injuries that may require medical assistance.
- Gather specific information. Although being the victim of a hit-and-run accident often leads to pain, anger and confusion, try to recall specific details of the other driver and his or her vehicle. Record the license plate number, make and model of the car, a physical description of the driver and whether or not there were passengers in the car. Make note of any special features of the car or driver, such as a bumper sticker, scratch on the passenger door, or unique tattoos and scars.
- Locate witnesses of the accident. If you are in a state of shock, you may not remember all of the details that would allow law enforcement officials to quickly track down the driver. If there are others nearby who may have seen the accident or the vehicles involved, get their names and contact information. Speak with them and take note of the information they can provide. Also, it is important to make note of any cameras that may have captured the accident.
- Take pictures of the scene. Attempt to take photographs of the accident scene without obstructing traffic or jeopardizing your own safety. Capture images of your car at its stopping point from different angles. Take pictures of any damage on your car and the surrounding area. If you are able, provide copies of these images to the police when they arrive, or store them in a secure location until you present them to the police or an insurance agency.
- Call an attorney. If you sustain an injury from the accident, be sure to call a personal injury attorney as he or she can guide you through the proceeding legal steps in order to maximize the value of your claim and help track down the driver.
- File an insurance claim. Make copies of all the information you gathered from the accident scene, and call your insurance company. Send the information, inform them that a police report was filed and recount as many details as possible to help give your insurance provider a clear understanding of the accident.
Being the victim of a hit-and-run accident can be an overwhelming experience, but you don’t have to face it alone. For more information about the procedures following hit-and-run accidents, contact the attorneys at Alperstein & Diener today.