There you are, minding your own business, carefully driving down the road. Unbeknownst to you, a car behind you is texting and driving or driving while intoxicated, clearly not paying attention. The car gets close to you, then all of a sudden side-swipes you or rear-ends you. Obviously in shock, you slow down and pull over to the side of the road. You notice the car that hit you in your rear-view mirror. Shortly after, you see that same car keep traveling down the road. You are not able to get its license plate number.
Determining who hit you in a hit-and-run accident can be harder than finding a needle in a haystack. A person is required by law to stop and give their contact information if they are involved in a car accident. However, there are 100’s of thousands hit-and-run accidents a year in the United States. Many of them result in death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every five pedestrians on the road die from a hit-and-run. Hit-and-run accidents can leave you burdened with paying for the damage to your vehicle and medical treatment you sought for your injuries.
The following is a list of steps to take if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident:
1. Call 911.
If you are injured, you need to contact emergency help immediately. You will want to report that an accident occurred and that the other driver drove away without stopping or providing any information. Even if the police do not find the vehicle that hit you, filing a report will help the claims process when you make a claim with your insurance company. It is good to have the time and location documented. Make sure the accident report has as much information as possible, including witnesses and statements.
2. Look for witnesses
Emergency responders will likely help you with this. If you did not get the other vehicle’s license plate number, try and remember, or estimate, the model, make, color and year of the car. Other cars may stop to help you after you are in an accident. Make sure you write down their names and numbers too. Ask them if they saw the vehicle that hit you and whether or not they saw the license plate number.
3. See if there are any video recordings of the accident
After the accident, look around and see if there are any video cameras attached to the traffic lights. Also look for video cameras attached to businesses or buildings in the area. There may be evidence of the accident. There may also be clear video of the other driver’s license plate. Finding video could be crucial to making your claim.
4. Take pictures
Take pictures of the accident scene and damage to your vehicle. If there is paint smeared on your vehicle you will want to make sure you get photographs of the color to prove another car actually hit you. These photos will go a long way in showing your insurance company that you were involved in a hit-and-run accident. You should also take pictures of your injuries. You will not only want to take pictures of your injuries right after the accident (once you are in a safe location and have sought medical attention), but you should also take pictures of your injuries throughout the healing and treatment process.
5. Make a claim with your insurance provider
It is imperative that your insurance policy has a clause in it that covers hit-and-run scenarios. Uninsured motorist coverage provisions will certainly take care of this. It is also imperative that you have a policy that has monetary limits that provide for even the most tragic accidents. Since you do not know who hit you, you will have to make an uninsured motorist coverage claim on your own policy. You will want to make a property damage claim, as well as a personal injury, bodily damage claim if you are injured in a hit-and-run car accident. If you were not at fault, your insurance premiums should not increase. Some insurance companies will try and place the fault on you so they do not have to pay for the damage or for your injuries. Don’t let them trick you! Be clear and concise when you are speaking with your insurance coverage. Be careful when you are explaining how you were driving and how you reacted after you were hit. Small tip: do not tell your insurance provider you could have done something different to avoid being hit.
6. Contact an attorney if your insurance denies your claim…or gives you a low-ball offer
An insurance provider will deny your hit-and-run claim if they can prove they have reason to believe you contributed to the accident. This is why you have to be careful when discussing your claim with them. They will certainly try and find a way to portion some liability on you. Insurance companies often low-ball people who are not represented by an attorney. This is another reason for you to contact an attorney and seek their advice.
Our firm is experienced in handling hit-and-run and uninsured accident claims. We offer a free consultation when you first call our office. After that, there are no expenses until we win your case. Contact our offices today at (816) 200-2900 to set up your free consultation.