What You Should Know about Hit and Run Accidents
A car accident is a stressful experience, especially if the at-fault driver has fled the scene of the accident.
Watching the vehicle that caused your accident drive away and flee responsibility for his or her actions can be infuriating. However, there are several steps you should take after a hit and run to protect your rights and help ensure you have a valid claim for obtaining the compensation you need for your injuries and damage to your vehicle.
Our New Jersey car accident attorneys recommend that you:
Being in a car accident can be nerve-wracking, especially when you notice another car fleeing the scene. It is important that you remain calm to give yourself the best odds at holding the fleeing driver accountable and recovering damages for your injuries.
Remain at the Scene
You should never attempt to chase down a fleeing driver after a hit and run accident. It could be dangerous for your damaged vehicle to be on the road, and continuing to drive could worsen any injuries you sustained.
Additionally, you do not know why the other driver fled the scene. Pursuing him or her could put you in danger. Police officers are trained to handle the pursuit of hit and run drivers – it is best you leave the chase to them.
Write Down License Plate Numbers and Descriptions
If you notice another driver beginning to leave the accident scene, take note of as much information about the vehicle and the driver as possible.
License Plate Numbers
Act quickly to obtain their license plate number. Write any plate numbers, including partial plate numbers, down and provide them to responding law enforcement – the information you obtain could help police identify the hit and run driver.
Try to get a good look at the fleeing vehicle, and write down any identifying information. Note the make, model, color and any damage to the vehicle. If you can safely take a photo on your smartphone, do so – you may even be able to capture the license plate number this way.
If you are able to get a look at the driver who is fleeing, try to remember all details about him or her and write them down as soon as possible. These details will be helpful in identifying a hit and run driver:
- Approximate age
- Hair style and color
These details may be important in identifying the driver, especially if he or she is not the vehicle’s registered owner. Criminal charges can only be filed against the driver, which may not be the owner of the vehicle – such is the case in stolen vehicle hit and run accidents.
Obtain Witness Statements
Witnesses at the scene may have had the opportunity to notice more information and details about the accident than you. You should obtain the names, phone numbers and contact information from witnesses. Write down statements from them, including any details they noticed.
If your hit and run accident occurred near a business, consult the owner and ask if their security cameras may have captured the accident. Their camera footage may offer valuable details that you were not able to note.
Call the Police
As soon as you are able, call the police to report your accident. Let the dispatcher know the other driver has fled the accident scene and offer any details you have.
When the police arrive, an accident report can be created. Obtain a copy or ask how to do so at a later time – this can be used to support a personal injury claim, if applicable.
Hit and run drivers can face high fines, mandatory suspension of their license and even jail time.
Seek Medical Care
A skilled physician will perform a medical evaluation and other necessary tests or imaging to identify any personal injuries that may have been sustained in the car accident. They will also provide the treatment you need to help your condition improve.
Seeking medical care immediately following your hit and run accident will also prove valuable for your personal injury claim. Your medical records can be used to support your claim. Medical proof of injury is evidence to support that the injuries you sustained were caused by the crash.
Submit an Insurance Claim
Because New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, you will always file a claim with your own insurance company after an accident, regardless of who was at fault or if you can identify the driver.
It is vital that you file a claim with your insurer as soon as possible so the claims process can begin. There may also be time limits for filing a claim, for which you should review your policy to ensure you do not miss the deadline and lose your opportunity to file a claim.
Depending on the level of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance you purchased, you will be able to recover compensation for medical care, lost income and death benefits.
If the hit and run driver has been identified, you can also file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver if you have the unlimited right to sue on your policy. With a limited right to sue, you can only file a lawsuit if you suffered a permanent injury.
Contact a New Jersey Car Accident Attorney
The insurance claims process can be tricky, especially in cases involving a hit and run accident. Our New Jersey car accident attorneys can guide you through the process.
We will investigate and support your claim with evidence and work to negotiate a settlement for maximized compensation. We will also explore all legal options for obtaining the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact Lynch Law Firm, PC today for a free, no obligation consultation. If we accept your case, we will handle all of the details for you with no upfront costs. We will only require payment if we recover compensation for you.
To schedule a free consultation, call (800) 518-0508 today.