Author: Abbigale Fredrick, Personal Injury Attorney
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be an overwhelming and frightening experience, even when the other driver acts lawfully and stops to exchange information with you. But what about the driver who hits your car and then drives away?
If you are the victim of a hit and run accident, you may be feeling helpless and confused about your rights and responsibilities. The advice of an experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and seek justice from an individual who hits your vehicle, causes you injury, and then flees the scene.
There are some simple steps you should take immediately if you are involved in a hit and run crash:
- Stop your vehicle as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic, and activate your emergency flashing lights.
- Try to write down the other vehicle’s license plate number before the driver leaves the scene.
- If you are injured, call 911 and/or tell any passerby that you are injured so that they can call 911 for you.
- If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask them to stay until police arrive; don’t forget to write down their names and contact information.
- Report the accident to law enforcement. If you are injured, tell the dispatcher immediately that you are injured, and describe your injuries. Also provide detailed information about the other vehicle, the driver, and the license plate number if you have it.
- Quickly jot down the color, make and model of the other vehicle if you can, as well as a physical description of the driver, to the best of your memory.
- If possible, take photos of the accident scene and the damage to your vehicle.
- If the emergency response team recommends taking you directly to the hospital, you should go. If you do not go directly to the hospital, but you believe you are injured, please have a friend or family member drive you to the Emergency Room as soon after the accident as possible.
- Ask the police officer responding to your accident to provide you his or her contact information so that you can follow up with the officer later.
Once you have sought appropriate medical attention for your injuries, there are additional steps you should take to make sure your interests are protected:
- Make sure you call your automobile insurance company and notify them about the accident as soon as possible.
- Even if you are unable to provide specific identification of the vehicle or driver who hit you, there is still a chance witnesses may come forward later. Contact the police officer who responded to your accident and follow up to see if any witnesses have come forward, or if they have identified the hit-and-run driver.
- If witnesses contact you directly, make sure you write down complete contact information for each witness, and provide it to the officer who responded to your accident.
Whether or not witnesses come forward or if the hit-and-run driver never materializes, you should still take several steps to protect your interests.
- Follow up with all medical treatment recommended by your medical providers.
- If you have health insurance, provide your health insurance information to the medical providers who treat you, and ask that the bills be submitted to your health insurance company.
- Keep records of all medical treatment received and out of pocket expenses incurred.
- If you were seriously injured in the hit-and-run accident, you should contact a personal injury law firm as soon as possible.
A personal injury law firm can help you to protect your rights in a hit-and-run accident situation, in the following ways:
- Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen has its own in-house investigations team, and can investigate your accident, working alongside law enforcement, to identify and locate the at-fault party by interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence, videos, photos, and other data.
- We can review your insurance policy, determine if there is uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage available to you, as well as investigate whether or not there are additional insurance policies that may provide coverage for your accident.
- We can review the entire accident scenario, identify all potential responsible parties and sources of recovery, and determine the best strategy to protect your rights and maximize your recovery.
- We can review your case and advise you on whether you should seek compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We can also advise you whether punitive damages (used to punish negligent drivers), are appropriate in your case.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit-and-run accident, contact Allen & Allen for a free consultation about your case.
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 Va. Code § 46.2-894