Car accidents are difficult enough, but when a negligent driver flees the scene, you’re left with an additional set of problems. A hit and run may leave you worried and confused about what to do in order to receive the proper compensation for your injuries and car damage. This guide will explain how to get compensation after a hit and run car accident and the process you should take in order to seek justice.
Why Would a Driver Leave the Scene of an Accident?
In April 2018, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that more than one hit and run accident occurs every minute in the United States and fatal hit and run accidents have risen by an average of 7.2% every year since 2009. Even though it is Pennsylvania law to stop after being involved in an accident, drivers may flee the scene for a variety of different reasons:
- They do not have legally required liability insurance.
- They have an outstanding warrant for their arrest.
- They are driving under the influence.
- They do not want their insurance rates to go up.
- They do not want another traffic violation on their record.
- They are driving a stolen vehicle.
- They are an undocumented immigrant.
- They are driving without a valid license.
Steps to take After a Hit and Run Car Accident
Follow these critical steps both for your safety and health as well as for building your case against the driver that will ultimately help you receive compensation after a hit and run car accident:
Pull over—If your vehicle is still able to drive after an accident, pull to the side of the road safely and cautiously in order to not obstruct traffic. It’s important to remember that if the other driver flees the scene, you should NOT try to pursue them as this is very dangerous and not your responsibility.
Call 911—Calling law enforcement immediately will give them the best chance of tracking down the vehicle. You must have the officers who arrive on scene write a police report that will detail the events of the crash which will help substantiate your legal case. You should also have medical professionals come to the site in order to have them evaluate you and provide necessary treatment.
Take photos—Documenting visuals of the scene will be helpful in building your case and putting together the details of the accident. Take photos of your car, street signs, debris, weather conditions, and your injuries.
Record details—Writing a recollection of the crash while it’s clear in your mind will allow you to build the narrative of the incident with as much detail as possible. Record the speed you were going, where you were headed, how the collision occurred, and everything else you can remember.
If you were able to get a look at the other driver’s car, write down the make and model, the color, the license plate number, any distinguishing features, and what direction they fled. If you could see the driver, write down their hair color, gender, clothing, race, and all other characteristics you could make out. This will enable the police to search for the driver more effectively.
Get eyewitness accounts—Take statements from passengers in your car and any bystanders that saw the accident. Make sure you get their contact information as well so you, the police, or your lawyer may ask them further questions if necessary. Witnesses to the incident may be able to give you more details about the other car and driver that you were unable to see.
Obtain footage—If the accident occurred on a street with CCTV or outside an establishment with security cameras, that footage may help provide details of the crash and the other driver’s description. You may need legal assistance in retrieving the footage, and a personal injury lawyer will provide that help.
Contact a personal injury lawyer—A personal injury lawyer will be able to guide you through the legal intricacies of a claim and knows the best way to win compensation after a hit and run car accident. Make sure you come to your first consultation fully prepared.
Where Will Compensation After a Hit and Run Car Accident Come From?
Your insurance – If the police are unable to locate the driver responsible or the driver is uninsured, you can go through your insurance carrier to receive compensation, and depending on your coverage plan, your options vary. If you have uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, you may file a claim for the injuries you sustained, and if you have uninsured motorist property damage coverage, you may file a claim for the car damage incurred. Collision insurance covers the damages to your vehicle and the payments required to repair them. These types of coverages are optional in Pennsylvania, so review your insurance policy to see if you do have them.
The driver’s insurance – If the driver is located, you may file a claim through the driver’s insurance company if they are insured. The police report indicating that they were at fault for the accident will prove their liability, allowing you to file the claim.
Through the driver personally—If the driver was located but uninsured and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you may sue them for compensation after a hit and run car accident with the help of a personal injury lawyer. Unfortunately, if they do not have enough income, they may be unable to pay the necessary amount for your bills.
Restitution—Since fleeing the scene of an accident is a criminal offense, the other driver may be charged. After that, you may enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer to request payment for the bills you incur as well as lost wages from the driver as part of their sentencing.
Trusted Personal Injury Lawyers in Delaware County, Pennsylvania
You don’t have to deal with an accident alone. At Donaghue & Labrum, our personal injury lawyers will help you navigate the complexities of obtaining compensation after a hit and run car accident. We have extensive experience in car accident lawsuits and a strong commitment to seeking justice for our clients. Don’t hesitate – call Donaghue and Labrum today to set up a free consultation.