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Any car accident, even those where all parties cooperate and provide their insurance information, can be a terrifying experience. Hit and runs are particularly stressful. With little to no evidence for the driver who flees the scene, hit and run victims are left feeling lost, angry, and helpless.
According to a study done by AAA, fatalities from hit and run car crashes increased by 62% from 2009. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that hit and run accidents involving fatalities rose by 14 percent. The statistics are less favorable for the state of California where it falls in 4th place, right after Texas, as the state with most hit and run accidents.
Many drivers are unsure of what to do after a hit and run. However, below we’ve listed several things you can do that will help you with your accident claim and possibly help catch the perpetrator.
1. Get any Information you can on the Fleeing Car
In a hit and run, sometimes you only get a few seconds to make any observations. But those seconds can be precious moments to collect any information about the other vehicle. Gather as much information as you can. Details about the other car will help the police with their report and their investigation of the accident.
Vital information could be:
License plate number, make, model, and color of the other car
Unique identifying features for the vehicle that fled the scene such as dents, scratches, or other damage
Details that could help identify the other driver such as age, gender, race, hair color, etc.
Most importantly, take note of the direction the other driver was headed in. For example, did the driver continue straight, make a right turn on a residential side street, or jump on the freeway
2. Call the Police
Don’t hesitate to call 911, even if you were not injured. Hit and run accidents are felonies, and the perpetrator should be caught. The sooner you notify the police of a hit and run driver on the loose, the more likely it is that he or she will be found.
When the police arrive, explain your side of the story and provide them with the information you obtained. Provide as much detail as you can.
3. Take Photos of the Accident Scene
With your cell phone’s camera, take good clear pictures of the crash site. Take photos of damages on your car as well as any other involved vehicles.
Were parked cars damaged? Take pictures of those vehicles, get their license plate, and if possible, speak to the owners. It is possible they were witnesses to the accident. Also, make sure to take photos of the entire crash scene and include other items such as:
Skid marks left on the road
Other damaged property such as traffic signs, fire hydrants, private property
Traffic signals, even if they weren’t damaged
Names of streets
Any information you feel might be helpful for the accident investigation
4. Speak to Witnesses who saw the Accident
In many cases, witnesses near the accident scene have a better view of the crash than the victims themselves. If there are restaurants, shops, or other nearby businesses, ask customers or the staff if they saw anything. If you speak to any witnesses, be sure to get their contact information. Also, look for witnesses who may have been in the parking lot of any one of these places.
5. Get Evaluated for Injuries
The initial shock of an accident may leave you unaware of any injuries you sustained. Therefore, it’s advisable that you go for a medical checkup, even if you don’t feel any obvious pain at the moment. Some injuries may cause little to no symptoms at first, but that doesn’t mean they are not serious. You may have internal bleeding or other serious injuries that could put your life at risk. Also, keep a record of all your medical expenses, reports, all other related medical information. All of this will help support your bodily injury claim.
The Insurance Claims Process for Hit and Run Accidents
If the other driver is not caught or is uninsured, a hit and run accident will be processed through your own insurance company. If you have it on your policy, your insurance would repair your car under collision coverage.
Not all states require uninsured motorist coverage including California which only requires liability insurance coverage. However, we strongly suggest you purchase this for your policy. Having this coverage gives you added peace of mind that you would be protected in a hit and run. We recommend you obtain uninsured motorist coverage for both property damage and bodily injury. There are also other types of coverages that could apply in a hit and run such as PIP (personal injury protection) or medical payments coverage.
Registered Car Owners are Responsible
Through a license plate check, the police can find the registered owner for the car, which may or may not be the same person as the driver. However, registered owners are ultimately responsible for carrying the minimum auto insurance policy limits on their car as well as knowing who gets to drive it.
For example, if you as a registered owner let your nephew who is not listed on your insurance policy drive your car, and your nephew crashes into another car and takes off, you are still responsible for the damage caused by your nephew’s hit and run accident. Insurance follows the car.
In a hit and run, if the vehicle is located and is insured, which would be a favorable scenario to your case, then your claim could be processed through the responsible party’s insurance carrier.
Contact a Hit and Run Accident Attorney
If you were the victim of a hit and run accident, you might think that you don’t have a strong case because of a lack of information. However, any information you provide to the authorities could help them catch the responsible driver and locate the vehicle.
An auto accident attorney can determine whether the other driver had insurance or not. If the other driver is uninsured, an attorney can do an asset check. This record can reveal valuable assets the other person owns which could be used to repay your damages.
In addition, an attorney with experience handling hit and run accidents could help you navigate the details of your case such as speaking with insurance representatives and negotiating on your behalf. Don’t be left with the burden of filling out forms and handling legal matters on your own. Let a Pasadena personal injury attorney help you with your hit and run accident case.
The Law Offices of Raul G. Lomas have handled numerous injury cases throughout the years and achieved successful case results for its clients. All of our consultations are free and completely confidential.
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