Every 15 minutes, at least 1 hit and the run takes place on U.S. roads. New Mexico, Florida, and Louisiana are the states with the highest fatal hit and run car accidents. While New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota have the fewest hit and run fatalities.
No matter where you live, being a hit and run victim is an overwhelming situation. One minute you’re driving and going about your business when suddenly someone else’s mistake becomes your problem!
Paying for injuries and vehicle damage becomes your main priority, all while also having to navigate the insurance claim’s process. Luckily, by knowing the right steps to take you can make a bad situation better.
What steps should you take after a hit and run accident? Read on to find out.
1. Call the Police
Were you in your car when it got hit? Did you or anyone else in your vehicle sustain injuries? If your answer is yes to either of these 2 questions, then you need to call 911.
Whatever you do, never try to chase after the vehicle that hit you. You could wind up hurting someone, hurting yourself, or running into legal issues. Instead, pull your car over to a safe place and call the police.
Reporting a Hit and Run
As a hit and run victim, having the authorities come to the scene of the accident will be incredibly helpful for your insurance claim. After pulling your vehicle over safely, give the police a call.
If you don’t have any injuries, and the damage is minor, it’s possible officers won’t come to the site of the crash. Instead, you may be directed to go to a collision reporting center if one’s close by.
In certain situations, a police officer may advise you that the damage is too minor to report. Should you run into a police officer that tells you not to report the incident, take down the officer’s name and badge number, and phone number.
Your insurance provider will want to speak to the officer, to fully understand why there isn’t a police report. If you fail to get the officer’s contact information, and you don’t have a police report, you might not have a valid claim.
It’s also possible that your insurance company will consider the incident to be your fault if you don’t have a police report that says otherwise. Having an at-fault incident on your driving record could make your insurance rates go up. To avoid this and other hassles, always call the police after a hit and run.
2. Gather Evidence
Insurance companies are all about the details. The more details and facts you can provide to support your claim, the easier your life will be.
While you’re sitting there waiting for the police to arrive, start gathering evidence. If you can safely do so, get out of the vehicle and start scanning the accident scene. Do you see any potential witnesses?
Approach anyone you think might have seen the accident. If they did witness the hit and run, get their contact information. After looking for witnesses the next step is to take photographs.
You can begin by photographing of every side of your vehicle, including the damage. You’ll also want to snap a few photos of nearby street signs to help show where the accident took place.
If you or any of your passengers have injuries, be sure to get photos of the injuries as well. However, be careful not to move anyone with injuries. If you can’t get good photos of the injuries at the accident scene, you can capture the shots you need later at the hospital.
Finally, your memory of the incident is also evidence that you’ll need to gather. Using your smartphone, take a voice recording of yourself describing the incident. If you don’t have a smartphone, grab a pen and paper and jot down everything you remember.
Any details you can remember about the vehicle who hit you will be the most helpful. For instance, do you remember the color of the vehicle, or what make and model their car was?
Can you recall part of the license plate, or maybe even the entire thing? As you recount the incident, you may find certain things come to mind you’d already started to forget about.
3. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you or anyone in your car is injured, you’ll want to seek immediate medical attention. We find that it often works out in your favor if you go straight to the hospital from the scene of the accident. You may think your injuries are minor, nevertheless, time could tell a different story.
For instance, you could have a severe case of whiplash and not even know it. Whiplash is a type of neck strain that can occur after a car crash. While some people feel it right away, others take days for the symptoms to appear.
By going directly to the hospital, it’ll be easier to prove that your injuries were a result of the hit and run incident. While there’s no guarantee, the police may find the person who hit your vehicle.
If the police locate the other driver, and they have insurance, you can file a bodily injury claim through their insurance company.
However, for your bodily injury claim to get the best compensation possible, you’ll need proof of your injuries, as well as the medical attention you’re seeking out. Lastly, keep track of any medical expenses you incur because of the hit and run incident.
4. File a Hit and Run Insurance Claim
Does your insurance policy include uninsured motorist coverage? Uninsured motorist coverage is sometimes referred to as underinsured motorist coverage or UM. There are 14 states that require you to carry this coverage.
For your UM coverage to apply, the other driver has to be at fault. It’s a coverage that’s there to help when the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or when they’re insurance limits are too low.
However, since the other driver is missing, it’s the same thing as the other driver not being able to pay. You may or may not have to pay a deductible for your UM coverage to kick in.
If you don’t carry UM coverage, you likely had to sign some type of waiver denying the coverage. If you don’t remember signing a waiver to pass up on UM coverage, reach out to an attorney that handles car accidents. Depending on where you live, you may be able to successfully sue the insurance company for not offering you UM coverage.
If you remember denying UM coverage, the other areas of your policy may be able to help out. Both the medical payment coverage and personal injury protection coverage, or PIP, may apply.
You’ll be happy to know that PIP can help cover costs that aren’t directly medical related. For instance, PIP can help pay for lost wages or income. You can also use your PIP coverage to help pay for the services you needed because of your injuries.
Let’s say, for instance, you can’t mow your lawn because you have whiplash. You could use funds from your PIP coverage to cover the lawn care costs.
5. Protect Your Interests as a Hit and Run Victim
Before you call your insurance company to file a claim, remember 1 thing. Insurance companies aren’t your friend, no matter how friendly they may sound. This isn’t to say that all insurance companies are bad or untrustworthy.
However, insurance companies are in the business of protecting their financial interests, not yours. You have to be careful what you say, whenever you’re dealing with an insurance company.
Keep a Professional Demeanor
As a hit and run victim, you’ll likely be dealing with 1 or more insurance adjusters. You’ll notice that many of the insurance adjusters you talk to are friendly.
However, remember, they’re being friendly for a reason. Insurance adjusters hope that by befriending you, you’ll say something that could damage your case.
For instance, let’s say you mention to the insurance adjuster that you were looking at the radio right before the hit and run took place. Even if the accident happened at a red light, an insurance company could use this against you. The adjuster could put in their report that you had your eyes off the road, contributing to the accident.
To avoid any insurance fiascos, always stick to the simple facts. Don’t get unnecessary details to the insurance adjuster, since they’ll only use these details against you. Instead, pay attention to the specific questions they ask and stick to only answering those inquiries.
Feel Good About Driving Again
Now you know what steps to take as a hit and run victim. While it may be a stressful situation, it’s not hopeless.
It’s our sincere hope that you feel better soon and get all of the financial and legal help you need. For more articles to help you feel your best, check out the rest of this site.