6 Steps to Take After a Hit and Run Accident
A car accident is never something you want to be involved in. But if there’s anything worse than a standard car accident, it’s a hit and run accident. If you’re ever the victim in an incident like this, it’s crucial that you know how to respond. Otherwise, a bad situation could get even worse.
How to Respond in a Hit and Run Situation
When the driver of an automobile hits a pedestrian, property, vehicle, or otherwise causes a collision, and then flees the scene or provides disingenuous information, it’s classified as a hit and run accident. And, believe it or not, they happen all the time.
According to a research report published in 2018 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one hit and run crash occurs every single minute in the United States. On average, 682,000 hit and run accidents have occurred each year since 2006. In 2016, these incidents resulted in 2,049 deaths – the highest number ever recorded (and a 60 percent increase since 2009).
Though they still make up a relatively small percentage of total traffic crashes and deaths, they can and do happen on a daily basis. Understanding how to respond as a victim in one of these incidents is important. Here are a few recommendations and tips:
1. Pull Over to Safety
Your health and safety is the primary concern. After any collision, take a few seconds to look around and determine the extent of your injuries (if there are any). Adrenaline will be pumping, so you won’t necessarily feel pain right away.
If you’re in a situation where you’re in danger of being hit again – like in the middle of an intersection or interstate – try to pull over to safety. If it’s not possible, turn on your flashers and attempt to move yourself to safety.
2. Record the License Plate Number
It’s hard to think clearly in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident, but do your best to record the license plate number of the other vehicles in the crash. You can write these numbers down or even speak them into your phone.
If the driver ends up fleeing the scene, you can always use a license plate lookup service – like Docusearch – to identify the vehicle’s owner. (Even if the driver stays on the scene and gives you information, it’s smart to visibly check the license plate with your own two eyes. Many hit and run incidents stem from the at-fault driver giving out erroneous information before leaving the scene.)
3. Call the Authorities
Within minutes of the accident, call the proper authorities to the scene. Failing to contact the police can prevent you from filing a proper claim with insurance. Even if you don’t have any information on the driver or vehicle, it’s imperative that a report is filed through the proper channels.
4. Look for Witnesses
Are there any witnesses in the area? (This includes other drivers, pedestrians, or even business owners/patrons who may have seen the incident from a nearby building.) Witnesses often have greater clarity in these instances and may be capable of providing a physical description of the vehicle and/or driver. All of this information can be recorded in the accident report.
5. Record Evidence
If there’s evidence at the scene of the crime, make note of it. (You can also bring it to the attention of the responding police officers.) This may include skid marks, debris, or even pieces of the other driver’s vehicle that were left behind. Also, make note of any traffic or security cameras in the area. These are valuable sources of evidence.
6. Contact the Insurance Company
After filing the police report, go ahead and contact your insurance company to explore your claims options.
If you’re able to find the driver, the information will be gathered and the incident will be filed much like a normal traffic accident. If you’re unable to find the responsible driver, you must have a certain type of insurance in place to cover your damages. You’ll need to have uninsured motorist property damage cover (UMPD) or collision coverage. You’ll most likely still have to pay a deductible out of pocket, but the policy should cover the rest.
Focus on What You Can Control
As the victim of a traffic collision or crash, you can’t always control what the other driver is going to do. If they choose to speed off or give you false information, that’s their prerogative. All you can do is focus on the elements that you can control and do your best to stay calm, gather the right information, and let the proper authorities handle the situation.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.