When you’re in any type of car accident, you probably know the drill: stay at the scene, exchange insurance information, get contact details and license plate numbers, and in the case of an injury or death, call the police. Filing a police report in any car accident is a good idea, anyway, so that you have documentation about what exactly happened, since you might have injuries that aren’t immediately apparent.
Taking these steps after a car accident doesn’t just help to ensure you get the compensation you deserve from an insurance agency and provide you with helpful documents you’ll need if you decide to pursue a car accident claim. Doing so is also required by law. Drivers involved in accidents that result in injuries or death must:
Stop their vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so
Check on all drivers and passengers
Stay at the scene immediately after the accident occurs
Provide basic first aid and/or get emergency medical help for anyone in need
Call police and wait for them to arrive
Identify and talk to witnesses
Contact insurance companies
When a driver leaves the scene of a serious car accident, they’re now the offending party in a hit-and-run accident. Drivers might flee the scene of an accident for reasons including a lack of a driver’s license or insurance, the fact that they’re intoxicated, because they’re driving on a suspended license, or because the vehicle they’re driving is not theirs.
Fight the urge to chase after them, since that means you’re leaving the scene of the accident, as well. Here’s what to do when you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident.
Police have fast emergency vehicles and the means to piece together clues to find the person who hit you and ran. You should contact police so they can:
File a police report with your side of the story of how the accident happened
Talk to witnesses who may have seen what the other driver looked like or what the license plate number was, or who will be able to provide identifying details about the driver’s car and what happened during the accident
Match up any details that are provided with individuals or cars police have on file
A police report with this information will help you when you report the accident to your insurance company. In cases where the other vehicle or driver is identified, you can use the police report if you decide to file a lawsuit against the other driver.
If you leave the scene of the accident, too, you’ll also be breaking the law. It will be harder to capture details that can help your case after the fact, and police will wonder why you left.
Even if the damage to your vehicle is minor, you should still contact police. They will be able to tell you that the damage is too minor to report, and you can gather the officer’s name, phone number and badge number so you can provide that to your insurance company.
Police can gather witness information, but while you’re waiting for police to arrive, you should also get the names and contact information of all witnesses yourself, as well.
Some witnesses might want to leave the scene themselves. If a witness is going to leave, ask them to write down a statement of what happened during the accident and sign it. Your insurance company and/or Birmingham car accident attorney can contact them for more information.
Document the Scene
Again, in addition to getting a police report, gathering evidence is important. Shoot photos or videos of the damage to your vehicle and your injury. If you are able to snap a photo of the other vehicle before it speeds away, that might be helpful.
You should also write down everything you remember about the vehicle and keep those notes in addition to the police report.
Get Medical Treatment
As we’ve covered, when you don’t visit a doctor after a car accident, and it turns out you were injured, another party can claim that your injury was caused by something other than the car accident. You should get medical treatment so that you don’t exacerbate your injury and so that you get the medical coverage for your accident that you are entitled to.
Keep organized records of all medical treatments and how your injury progresses. These are vital documents should decide to file a car accident claim.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney If the Offender Is Found
If you receive word that the other driver in your accident has been located by police, consult with a car accident attorney about next steps. A motorist who is found guilty in a hit-and-run accident will likely need to pay for damages to the other party, which would be you, the victim.
If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident and want to pursue legal action against a party that has been identified, contact the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums car accident attorney team for a free consultation.