A hit-and-run accident happens somewhere in the US every 43 seconds. While it’s easy to feel alone after such a traumatic event, you’re far from it. Help is available, as is financial compensation.
Here, we’re going to guide you step-by-step about what to do after this type of accident. Read on to learn how you can get justice for injuries and reach a settlement with a car accident lawyer.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
In some hit-and-run accidents, another car will hit you as you’re driving. In many cases, these are simple fender-benders that don’t require emergency medical services. Sometimes, these collisions are more serious and cause injuries.
Common hit-and-run injuries include:
Neck injuries like whiplash
Concussions and other brain trauma
Sprains and pulled muscles
In other cases, a car hits a pedestrian and drives off. These cases almost always result in serious injuries that require fast medical assistance. According to the CDC, 1 in every 6 people who suffer fatal injuries during car accidents are pedestrians.
Remember that your health and safety are the priority after any hit-and-run case. If you or a passenger were hurt, call an ambulance or drive to the emergency room immediately. An attorney can help you gather evidence in the future after everyone is healthy and safe.
Don’t Leave the Accident Site
Unless it is a necessity for health and safety, you should never leave the accident site after a hit-and-run. Since a 911 call will get an ambulance to you quickly, you usually should stay at the collision site until emergency vehicles arrive.
Leaving the accident site to follow the fleeing driver is a bad idea. The police may question who really is at fault in the accident since it could look like you’re hiding something. You also won’t be able to gather on-site evidence like eyewitness reports and photos.
Leaving the scene of an accident also brings up further safety issues. Your car is likely damaged and your risk of getting into another accident is high. Even if your vehicle is fine, the stress of the collision can cause distracted and dangerous driving.
Call 911 and File a Report
A 911 call brings EMS to the site of the accident to assess for injuries that may have gone unnoticed. It’s important for that reason, but it also is critical because you need to talk to authorities. If someone in the car does not need emergency medical care, they can also file a police report immediately. Once you call the authorities, gather as much information at the accident site as possible.
The fleeing driver’s license plate number
The car’s make/model/color
Description of any damage to the fleeing vehicle
Photos of the fleeing vehicle (when possible)
The direction in which the other vehicle fled
Photos of damage to your vehicle
Photos of visible injuries that you or a passenger sustained
The date, time, and precise location of the auto accident
Keeping this information on a note in your phone ensures that you won’t forget it. You can relay it to the police when they arrive and file a more accurate report.
The authorities will use this report to track down the other driver. It also is important legal evidence when you’re looking to gain compensation in a post-collision settlement process.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer Immediately
It might be tempting to immediately contact your insurance company. However, you could dig yourself into a legal pit by doing so.
Individuals without the knowledge or skills to talk to insurance companies could easily say something that damages the possibility of a higher settlement. Insurance agents don’t want to give you maximum compensation and will often try to trip you up. Only a reliable and experienced attorney should be talking with insurance providers.
That’s why you need to hire a top-notch car accident lawyer immediately after filing your police report.
Make sure that you choose someone with:
Years of relevant experience handling personal injury cases
Knowledge of California laws
Open communication and friendliness
Good client reviews
This will ensure that you get the best legal representation when negotiating your way toward a settlement.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
At this point, you can contact your insurance provider with the guidance of your attorney. See what’s covered and what isn’t. You likely can get compensation from them up to a certain threshold depending on your monthly premium.
Let the lawyer speak with the agent. This will show them that you’re serious and ensure that you don’t say the wrong thing.
Once you learn what your insurance will cover, you and your attorney can work together to come up with a plan for talking to the other drivers’ insurance company.
Take Necessary Legal Action
In a hit-and-run accident, you will need to do this after the authorities find the other driver. Luckily, this will likely happen fairly quickly after you give the police information about the other vehicle. Attorneys can help access surveillance camera footage to speed up the process.
If they are not found because of a lack of evidence or an unregistered vehicle, you and your lawyer can discuss the options available to you. This will vary from case to case, so you need to openly communicate.
Your attorney will need to negotiate with your insurance company (and the other drivers’ when applicable). You are eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, missed wages, and temporary or permanent disability. In some cases, you may also be able to get pain and suffering damages.
Your lawyer will try to get you as much compensation as possible. Again, this is on a case-by-case basis, so ask what to expect prior to the negotiation process.
Get Justice After a Hit-and-Run Accident
While being the victim of a hit-and-run accident is painful and traumatic, a personal injury attorney can provide you with both help and hope. Now that you know what to do after an accident, it’s time to consult with a car accident lawyer about your specific case.
At Riverview Accident Lawyers, we pride ourselves on offering assistance from experienced attorneys seasoned in car accident law. Our Santa Ana firm provides California victims with counseling, communication, and commitment to reaching the best possible compensation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and begin your claim.