If you experienced a hit-and-run accident, you may be wondering what to do. What steps should you take? How do you get compensation for the damages? What if you sustained injuries during the crash?
These are critical questions, and the way you react now could affect the outcome of your case. Whether the car wreck occurred in a parking lot or at a busy intersection, your actions now may determine whether or not you receive a payout later.
This is especially true if you’ve been injured in the wreck.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what actions you need to take after a hit-and-run accident and how to protect your best interests.
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident is a car accident that occurs when the driver responsible for causing the accident leaves the scene without providing contact or insurance information or contacting authorities.
While many people believe hit-and-run accidents always involve two vehicles, they can involve one vehicle colliding with a pedestrian, cyclist, or even personal property – like a mailbox or fence.
Leaving the accident scene is considered illegal in most states. Today, the penalties for hit-and-run accidents vary depending on the accident’s severity, where it occurred, and how much damage it caused.
In many states (including Florida) hit-and-run accidents can lead to criminal charges, fines, license suspensions, or jail time. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to catch the drivers who cause hit-and-run accidents, which can leave victims in limbo.
What to do After a Hit and Run Accident
If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident and the responsible party has left the scene, take the following steps to protect yourself:
The immediate aftermath of any car accident is stressful and intense. Still, it’s essential to keep calm. Take a deep breath, survey the situation, and decide what to do next. The more composed you can be now, the more effectively you can navigate the coming steps.
Assess the situation
Once you’ve taken a few deep breaths, assess yourself and others for injuries. If injuries are present – even minor ones – contact first responders immediately.
Even if there are no visible injuries, you should call the police.
A responding officer will be able to issue an accident report, which you’ll need to pursue your case further. Additionally, calling the police provides documentation of the accident, which is critical for filing an insurance claim.
Don’t forget to ask the police officer for a copy of the report. The police report will outline the essential details of the accident, including the date, time, and place the accident occurred and a list of damage to your personal property or vehicle.
Make sure the scene is safe
Generally, we do not advise you to move your car after a hit-and-run accident. There is one exception, though: if you’re in the middle of traffic, moving to a safe place is important.
If possible, pull your vehicle to the side of the road and turn on hazard lights to make yourself more visible to other drivers. If you move the involved vehicles, use your phone to take photos of the crash scene before you alter it.
Even if the responsible party has fled the scene, try to gather as much information as possible from the people who are still there.
For example, talk to witnesses to find out if anyone noticed the vehicle’s vehicle’s make, model, color, and license plate number.
You should also write down any other details you remember, including specifics about the scene or the driver’s appearance or behavior. Keep a copy of these notes for yourself and share a copy with the responding officer, as well.
Document the scene
Next, use your phone to take photos of the damage to your vehicle and the surrounding area. These photos will help you document your claims and, hopefully, receive an adequate payout for your losses.
Contact your insurance company
Once you’ve taken photos and documented important information, contact your insurance company to inform them about the hit-and-run accident.
Your insurance representative will help you open a claim and provide information regarding the next steps.
Seek legal advice
If you sustained injuries in a hit-and-run accident or the wreck caused property damage, we recommend contacting a personal injury attorney immediately.
A personal injury attorney will help you understand your rights after the accident. Your lawyer will also aggressively pursue the compensation you need to get life back to normal.
NEVER chase a hit-and-run driver
While hit-and-runs can be infuriating, do not take justice into your own hands. Avoid confronting or chasing the hit-and-run driver. Instead, contact the police promptly and allow them to handle the investigation.
Prioritize your wellness
Last but not least, prioritize your well-being after a hit-and-run accident.
Talk to a therapist or psychologist if you’ve noticed lingering emotional symptoms, like anxiety or sleeplessness. Additionally, consider taking a few days off work to rest and process the accident, and reach out to the people closest to you for support.
See a doctor
Even if you believe you weren’t injured during the car accident, it’s important to see a doctor for a follow-up exam.
The reason for this is simple:
Many of the injuries associated with car accidents can have invisible symptoms. These injuries may not “flare up” for days or weeks following an accident.
The only way to make sure you aren’t injured (or to receive adequate treatment, if you are) is to get a comprehensive check-up at your doctor’s office.
In addition to identifying injuries, this will allow you to seek adequate compensation for your medical needs both now and in the future.
Ward & Barnes: The Accident Attorney You Need in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze
Recovering from a hit-and-run accident can be difficult – both financially and physically. Fortunately, our team is here to help you navigate the process.
Whether you were injured during the car wreck or suffered extensive property damage, our personal injury attorneys will work with you to secure a settlement and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve to recover from the event.
Serving Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and the surrounding areas, our team of expert accident attorneys will guide you through the aftermath of your car accident – every step of the way.
Ready to learn more about our team or how one of our skilled lawyers can help you? Contact us today.