When a driver gets involved in an accident, it is their responsibility to step out of their vehicle, contact emergency services, and exchange contact numbers for insurance claim purposes. However, when the driver leaves the accident scene, or simply hits and runs, that is considered a crime. These incidents can have severe consequences like property damage, serious injuries, and even death. It is important to know that there are vital steps that should be done right after a hit-and-run incident. That said, we will guide you on how to protect your rights, should you get involved in one.
Seek Medical Help
First things first, in the event of an accident, ensure your safety by seeking medical attention. Even if you feel okay, some injuries don’t show up immediately; they can take days, weeks, and even months to show symptoms. Seeing a doctor is a wise decision to deal with your visible injuries if there are any, and discover the invisible ones too. Moreover, seeking medical care can help you when you’re claiming insurance for your car. You need evidence that proves the damage incurred as a result of the accident. Your medical reports and bills will be needed in your insurance claim so that they can be covered as well. You should not be incurring these expenses, especially when it is someone else’s fault.
Hire an Attorney
An experienced lawyer who specializes in hit-and-run accidents can understand the difficulty of recovering from one. The situation is harder and often complicated when you’re dealing with a vanished guilty person. Your attorney can investigate your accident thoroughly and do their best to determine who committed this crime and how you can be compensated. If you live in Florida, make sure you seek the assistance of a hit and run car accident attorney in Tampa, FL who can guarantee that you get offered fair compensation from the insurance company. Allowing your lawyer to deal with the insurance company is much more efficient and fail-safe than dealing with it on your own; a lawyer’s professional ability to negotiate and bargain can immensely help you get the highest compensation you deserve.
When a car accident takes place, both drivers should be collecting evidence for the sake of insurance claims. However, in a hit-and-run situation, it might be tricky to collect evidence, especially because the other driver simply vanished. Write everything down on a piece of paper, including the date and time of the incident, full details of the damage and how it happened, the make and model of the vehicle, and possibly the direction in which the car fled.
Use your phone to capture photos of the accident. Take a wide shot of the scene and secure many photos of the damage your car has incurred. These photos will come in handy as they help to determine how the accident took place. If you can find witnesses, take their contact information, as they can speak to the police officer and explain the details of the incident or provide other valuable information. In the case that it took place at an intersection or a parking lot, there is a chance that it has been recorded by cameras. Law enforcement can get the footage and find the irresponsible driver.
Report the Incident
Once you get the medical reports and collect evidence, report the incident to the local police as soon as possible. They investigate the scene, write down a description of the incident, and work on finding the guilty. Even if the police can’t locate the culprit, their report can work in your favor and be of great use when it comes to claiming insurance. However, if they can track the other driver, that irresponsible person will probably face up to 6 months in prison, pay fines up to $500, and at least 6 months of driver’s license disqualification, depending on how severe the accident is.
File an Insurance Claim
Whether you’ve been hurt or your vehicle has incurred damage as a result of a hit-and-run incident, it is your right to claim compensation. Insurance companies are probably going to make you wait a few weeks before they send you a settlement offer, which may cover only partial damage. Their offer might be written in threatening language that means you can’t refuse this offer because it is not guaranteed that you’ll get a second one. Don’t be afraid to reject the offer, especially when it is too low. Settlements protect the insurer from legal proceedings, so they aspire to reach a settlement if it means bypassing courts. That’s why it is crucial to involve your lawyer in your insurance claim to help you get satisfactory compensation. If your insurance offer does not cover your loss adequately, request appropriate compensation instead of agreeing to the settlement.
Types of Insurance Claims
When it comes to filing an insurance claim, you should know the types of coverages you may be entitled to beforehand. These coverages can help you get the compensation you deserve:
This is a type of coverage that will help you get your vehicle repaired.
Uninsured Injury Coverage
In case you get injured in a hit-and-run, this type can cover your lost wages and medical bills.
Uninsured Property Damage Coverage
If the policy doesn’t include collision coverage, this can help with vehicle repairs.
Medical Payment Coverage
This type can help with covering the medical bills of both the driver and passengers.
Personal Injury Protection
Regardless of fault, this no-fault coverage can cover medical bills and lost wages.
When a driver knowingly causes an accident and leaves the scene immediately without providing assistance of any sort or any information about themselves, it is considered a hit-and-run incident. Most jurisdictions consider it to be a misdemeanor unless someone gets injured. At that moment, it is considered a felony charge. When the responsible driver flees, it’s mandatory to talk to witnesses and report the incident to the police. Similar to any collision, you must document every small detail of the accident for your insurance claim and the police. You should also hire a specialized professional lawyer who can help you get your rights.