Car crashes, even minor ones, are stressful to deal with. The stress is amplified when the other driver involved in your accident intentionally drives off, leaving the scene. This is referred to as a hit-and-run accident. Examples include when a person strikes your car while you’re both driving and they speed off in the opposite direction to avoid speaking with you, when a driver strikes a car in a parking lot and leaves without providing information, or when a drunk driver flees an accident scene to avoid being charged with a DUI.
One of the most prevalent challenges for the victim of a hit-and-run is finding the driver who caused the accident and abandoned the scene. Depending on the circumstances, the case may be resolved easily, or it could take time. In some cases, the negligent party may never be found.
If you’ve been in a hit-and-run, it’s likely you’ll want to do everything in your power to assist law enforcement with finding the person that injured you and damaged your vehicle. While there’s no way to know just how long your case will stay open, there are things you can do to move the process forward so you can receive the compensation you need to recover.
How Hit-and-Run Investigations Work
It’s difficult to estimate how long a hit-and-run accident case will stay open, but understanding how an investigation works will give you an idea of the steps that need to be completed before a case is closed – solved or otherwise.
When the accident first happens, you want to try to collect all the information you can about the car that hit you. This is after, of course, you evaluate yourself for injuries and determine if you need immediate medical attention. If you’re capable of collecting details, try to get the other vehicle’s license plate number, make, model, color, number of doors, driver’s appearance, or the number of passengers. Even a partial plate can be the difference between the driver getting off and solving a hit-and-run.
After you’ve collected some information, you’ll want to contact the authorities to make an official report. While you wait for them to arrive, look for witnesses and surveillance cameras. Witnesses may be a challenge depending on where the crash took place. But if the accident took place in a busy parking lot or intersection, you may be able to find someone who can provide you with information. Surveillance cameras, when they’re in the vicinity, are the most useful piece of evidence. Police officers can access the footage and look for a plate number or other identifying information.
Once the police arrive, provide them with as much detail about the incident as possible. If there’s evidence to go on, they’ll start their investigation and work to determine who struck your vehicle. Depending on the evidence, they may be able to quickly identify the suspect, but it’s important to remember that these things can take time. Regardless of your injuries or losses after a hit-and-run, it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney to determine how best to proceed.
Seeking Compensation for a Hit-and-Run
There are a number of ways you may be able to obtain compensation for your medical bills and other accident-related expenses. Your lawyer can explain your options based on your unique circumstances. In general, however, you may be able to seek compensation from the negligent driver, their insurance company, your insurance company, or through restitution.
If the police are able to locate the driver that hit you, you can file a claim with their insurance company. If they don’t have a valid policy or they’re underinsured, you can pursue a claim against them directly. It can be difficult to collect this way if they do not have sufficient income or assets to pay you.
If you choose to file a claim with your own insurance company, there are different coverages that may be able to cover your damages including collision insurance and uninsured motorist coverage. Finally, because fleeing an accident scene is illegal, you can ask the judge to order the negligent party to pay your losses if they are criminally charged.
Get Help from Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC
It can be frustrating to deal with a hit-and-run accident claim when there’s no way to know how long the case might stay open. When you work with a lawyer from Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we’ll handle the paperwork and phone calls for you, so you can focus on recovery. To learn more about the benefits of seeking legal guidance after a hit-and-run, contact our office today.