Few experiences are as traumatic as being injured in an automobile accident. Whether the accident was your fault or the fault of the other driver, the physical and emotional consequences can last for months, years or even for the rest of your life.
Being injured in a car accident is bad enough, but becoming the victim of a hit and run driver is even worse. When you are victimized in this way, the steps you take in the immediate aftermath of the incident could make a world of difference.
Taking the right steps following a hit and run automobile accident is the best way to protect your rights, so you can recover from your injuries and get a jump start on the healing process. If you are injured in a hit and run accident, these are the key steps you need to take.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
Finding the errant driver in a hit and run accident is important, but nothing is more vital than getting the medical help you need. If you have been seriously injured as a result of the impact, your first call should be to 9-1-1.
Seeking medical attention right away is essential if you believe you have broken bones, soft tissue damage, head trauma or other serious injuries. And even if you do not think your injuries are serious, you should follow up with your doctor or seek a prompt evaluation at the nearest urgent care center.
Ask for Witness Statements
The driver who hit you may be long gone, but chances are someone else witnessed the accident. If you are injured by a hit and run driver, you need to gather as many witness statements as you can.
Having those witness statements can help you determine what happened, and more importantly who the driver may have been. Even small clues, like the color of the automobile or the approximate age of the driver, could prove valuable to law enforcement personnel.
Contact Local Law Enforcement
Drivers are legally required to stop and render aid when the actions they take result in an accident. If you are hit by a car and the driver runs off or keeps driving, that is a serious crime.
If you are injured in a hit and run accident, you should contact local law enforcement right away. Getting medical attention for your injuries should always come first, but contacting law enforcement will help you protect your rights. Documenting what happened is critical in the aftermath of a hit and run accident, and the sooner you call the police the better off you could be.
When the police arrive, you can provide your statement, including the make and model of the vehicle that hit you, any details you can remember, including the license plate number and what happened in the time leading up to the crash. You should also provide local law enforcement with any witness statements you were able to gather.
These details, no matter how small, could prove critical in solving the hit and run crime and bringing the responsible driver to justice. You may be shaken up, but think about what part of the car hit you; the impact may have damaged the vehicle as well as your body. In many hit and run cases, the damage the vehicle sustained will help the police track down the suspect.
Document Your Injuries
When the other driver is found and held responsible, you will need proof of the injuries you have suffered. Bruises can fade fast, so be sure to document your injuries while the evidence is still fresh.
You will want to take detailed photographs of your injuries, so grab your smartphone and start the documentation process. If you go to the hospital, urgent care center or emergency room, you can ask the medical staff for both photographic and written statements detailing your injuries. The more information you have, the better off you will be.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Every accident, whether it is your fault or the fault of another driver, should be reported to your automobile insurance carrier. Once you have received the necessary medical treatment, provided a detailed statement to the police and rounded up any witnesses, you should contact your insurance company to report what happened and ask about next steps.
Hopefully the police will be able to find the errant driver, so they can be held legally and financially responsible for the damage they have caused. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime, and your case should be a priority for local law enforcement. But even if the other driver cannot be found, your insurance policy may provide coverage for your injuries, so you can get back on your feet, and back behind the wheel, without delay.
Consider Working with a Personal Injury Attorney
Last but certainly not least, you might want to consider working with a personal injury attorney. If the hit and run driver is ultimately found, their insurance carrier may try to minimize your injuries or try to pin part of the blame on you. And if the driver cannot be found, your own insurance carrier may try the same tactics.
Even if you do not like the idea of filing a lawsuit, contacting a personal injury lawyer now is the best way to protect your rights. If you do need to go to court, you will be prepared. If you can reach a just and equitable settlement, that could be even better.
Being involved in a hit and run automobile accident could be one of the most frightening experiences in your life, and it is only natural to feel emotionally overwhelmed in the wake of such trauma. Even so, it is important to take some practical steps, so you can protect yourself and hopefully bring the criminally negligent driver to justice. Hopefully you will never be victimized in this way, but if you are, knowing what to do could make all the difference.