Any type of car accident that you may be in is sure to be a devastating and distressing experience. However, hit and run accidents present enormous challenges. After a hit-and-run accident, you don’t know who hit you and what you can do to get the justice you deserve.
Hit and run accidents occur when the driver who hits a car, motorcyclist, pedestrian, or bicyclist leaves the scene of the accident instead of staying around to see if everyone is alright and help people get back on their feet. The person who hits and runs is disobeying the law. Speak with a personal injury lawyer so that you can work together to find the driver and get the justice that you—and they—deserve.
What Is a Hit and Run Accident?
A hit and run accident occurs when one driver hits another vehicle, cyclist, pedestrian, or bicyclist but does not stay around to assess the damage and offer help. Legally, all drivers who hit another person or even another piece of property must stop the vehicle, call 911 if necessary, and offer insurance information to help pay for damages.
An Injury Hit and Run Accident
After a hit and run accident involving injury, drivers have responsibilities, including:
- Stop the car and pull off the road as quickly as possible.
- Offer their name, current address, names and addresses of any occupants of their vehicle who the accident may have injured, vehicle registration number, and name and address of the car’s owner.
- Arrange to help injured people find medical treatment by transporting or arranging transportation to a hospital or medical facility.
- Show driver’s license if requested.
If a driver fails to stop at the accident scene, they face one year of incarceration and/or maximum fines of $10,000. If a person deliberately flees a crime scene, they can face an additional five years in state prison. In addition, if they cause severe injury or death to anyone, they should be imprisoned in a state facility for two, three, or four years and/or county jail for at least 90 days.
As you can see, a hit-and-run accident can severely punish the driver who flees the crime scene. If you are in a hit-and-run accident and want to help ensure that the driver who fled the scene gets the just sentence they deserve, discuss what happened with a lawyer immediately.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
You may initially feel distressed and confused after a hit-and-run accident. There is no way to escape feeling afraid and lost when someone has hit you and caused so much damage, only to leave you to fend for yourself. You are not alone if you don’t know what to do after a hit-and-run accident.
Of course, you may not remember everything at the moment. Shock often makes it challenging to act wisely and remember everything.
But, as soon as you have your bearings, here are some things you can start to do to build a strong case that you can use to recover compensation from the hit-and-run driver.
- If you can do so, take photos of the accident scene. Capture the location, the vehicles involved, any apparent damage, readily apparent injuries, and any other information that may be relevant to the cause and results of the accident.
- If you noticed any details about the car that ran, such as the license plate number, color, or make and model, write that information down immediately so you do not forget.
- Call 911 if anyone is injured so that you can get the medical treatment you need right away.
- Call the police and file a report. They may be able to help you find the driver who caused the accident.
- Get contact information and statements from anyone nearby who witnessed the accident.
- Connect with a car accident lawyer skilled at handling hit-and-run claims so that they can start looking for the driver and seeking the compensation you deserve.
You must collect and keep with you any evidence that could be relevant to the case.
Your lawyers will help you determine what evidence you need, but you may want to collect things such as:
- Photos and video footage from the accident scene.
- The police report.
- Receipts for the costs to repair or replace your damaged property.
- Medical bills and records detailing what treatment you’ve needed.
- A personal journal of some kind that explains what consequences you have suffered since the accident occurred.
- Eyewitness statements from anyone who saw the accident.
- Statements from your family and friends about the damage caused by the accident.
- Documentation of lost wages and lost hours at work.
Keep any of these documents and share them with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Damages You Can Claim in a Hit and Run Accident
As you already saw, anyone who runs from an accident scene can face criminal charges. However, you could also sue for compensation for your losses. To sue them for compensation, you must prove damages resulted from the accident.
Some of the most common types of damages you’ll want to include in your claim are:
- Medical expenses from emergency room visits, surgeries, procedures, ongoing therapy, medication prescriptions, and medical equipment.
- Property damage costs to repair or replace property.
- Loss of income from the time you took off work to recover.
- Loss of earning capacity if you cannot return to the same job or working capacity as you had before the accident.
- Loss of life enjoyment.
- Pain and suffering in general.
- Emotional distress or ongoing trauma (like PTSD).
- Scarring, disfigurement, and humiliation.
- Loss of consortium with loved ones.
While some of these damages are easy to prove, others can be more challenging to show. If you are concerned about how to prove all the damages that you endured, talk to a car accident lawyer. Such a lawyer can help you calculate your damages, set a settlement amount, and gather proof to convince the other party that they should pay you back.
What if a Hit and Run Driver Is Uninsured?
In some cases, you may find that a hit-and-run driver fled the scene because they were uninsured and did not want to pay for any expenses out of pocket. This is a common and understandable response, but it is not necessarily correct. However, it can be hard to find the driver and get help from them if they do not have insurance to help pay for what happened.
Many uninsured drivers avoid paying insurance premiums because they do not have enough money. This means they likely don’t have enough money to pay for damages you suffer after an accident. This is why purchasing your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and collision coverage helps.
Of course, you may also want to sue the uninsured driver. If you do, your best option may be to connect with a lawyer to discuss what you should do. They can advise you on whether you will be able to recover enough compensation to make up for any legal fees you will incur. They can also advise you if there is a better way to get the money that you need to recover after your accident.
What Happens After a Hit and Run Accident?
There is no way to know what will happen after a hit-and-run accident. However, there are some steps that everyone involved in a hit-and-run accident should take so that they can pursue justice.
After an accident, your case may follow this outline.
- First, you will talk to a lawyer to get an idea of how you can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver, even if you do not know who it was. Your lawyer will help you determine if you want to go after the case, then you can retain their services if you decide to go ahead.
- Second, your lawyer will ask you to help them gather evidence from your medical providers, employers, and other professionals who helped you after the accident. They will contact the police department for a detailed police report.
- Third, your lawyers and the police will do everything they can to find the driver who hit you and left so that you can ask them for compensation.
- Fourth, your lawyers will file a complaint against the at-fault driver, explaining how the accident was their fault and what compensation you need to recover.
- Fifth, you will receive a response from the driver, either making a settlement offer or denying your claim.
- Sixth, your lawyers will gather more evidence to build a stronger and more convincing case.
- Seventh, you and the at-fault party will attempt to negotiate a settlement amount that both sides can accept.
- Eighth, you may take your claim to court if you cannot settle. There, your lawyers will present it before a judge and jury, who will get to decide the verdict.
- Finally, you will receive a verdict, and your lawyer will help you get your settlement check and take it home to pay for the bills and expenses you have accrued since your accident.
Remember that most claims settle out of court, so you may not have to go through all these steps to get your settlement. However, it is best to be prepared and expect your claim to take months or years to settle. In the meantime, do not neglect medical attention, so you stay on the quickest road to recovery.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you likely don’t know where to turn. It can be hard to know who to contact for help when there’s no one to blame for your accident. But do not hesitate to reach out to a car accident lawyer who knows about hit and run accidents. With help from an expert, you can pursue the justice you deserve and the compensation you need.
While finding a lawyer may seem like a hassle, a good lawyer will make the time and effort well worth it. Lawyers help clients get more significant settlements than they would have alone. They also support you while you search for transportation, medical care, and other necessities after an accident.
Let a good car accident lawyer take the stress off your shoulders and handle communication and legal work so that you do not have to keep fighting alone. Connect with a lawyer today.