Hundreds of thousands of minor car crashes happen each year, and most of them are resolved without incident. Sometimes, however, the other driver flees the scene, which can leave you in a tight spot when you later file an insurance claim. It’s against the law to leave the scene of a car accident, of course, but that doesn’t stop the many drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents each year. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in that situation.
Make safety your priority
Safety is always the first priority in a traffic incident. If you’re blocking traffic, get out of the way of oncoming cars, but don’t leave the scene. Also, if you have any injuries, however minor they seem, call for medical help. If someone else at the scene is hurt, provide aid to the best of your ability without putting yourself in danger, and wait for help to arrive.
Follow these guidelines for a hit-and-run car accident
Depending on your specific policy, your insurance may not cover a hit-and-run car accident. That makes it vital to find the driver of the other vehicle to ensure you can properly pursue damages. Take swift action after an accident. When you’re safe, adhere to the following guidelines:
- Call the police: Insurance companies are usually quicker to pay out for claims that have an attached police report. This acts as an official statement of what happened and who’s at fault. In small towns, such as Belleville, IL, the sooner you call, the better.
- Try to catch the license plate number: While not always possible, the license plate number is vital to finding the offender. If you can’t remember the entire plate, at least try to remember some of it; it’s better than nothing.
- Talk to witnesses: Ask people what they saw and request they stay to give their statements. Investigators presume that strangers lack the motive to lie, and their statements carry some weight in the investigation. Multiple witness statements that back up your account are highly valuable.
- Get pictures: Most people today have camera phones, so there’s no good reason not to have pictures of the accident scene yourself. If it ever goes to court, at least you’ll be well-prepared. Remember that many hit-and-run accidents happen in parking lots. Ask nearby buildings and businesses whether they have footage of the crash that they can provide, either to the police or to your own personal injury lawyers.
- See a doctor: You may not be injured. You might feel fine. However, there’s always a chance you’ve sustained some sort of injury that you won’t notice until later. With a quick examination, you ease the path to filing a workers’ compensation or disability claim to prevent lost wages, especially if a related injury reveals itself after the fact.
Brunton Law Office provides legal advice for those injured in hit-and-run car accidents in the Belleville, IL area and throughout the Metro East.