Over half a million hit and run accidents occur in the United States every year. A hit and run injury accident can cause a variety of problems, ranging from a delay in medical treatment (if you are stranded in a deserted area and unable to call an ambulance) to subsequent financial problems if the driver is never located and your insurance policy doesn’t cover hit and run accidents.
The first step after a hit and run accident is to get to a safe place (out of oncoming traffic). Next, call the police, and the ambulance if necessary. The police will record the scene of the accident and interview you and any witnesses they can find. If you are not in need of immediate medical attention, take photos yourself with your cell phone and try to relate as many details as you can to the officer, because you are likely to forget them later. Also, remember to record the contact details of any witnesses.
Regardless of what happened in your hit and run accident, do not try to chase down the other driver – you might end up in a second accident in which you are the at-fault driver.
Find an Experienced Local Personal Injury Lawyer
You may very well need a lawyer even if you just want to settle with your insurance company out of court. A good car accident lawyer will work together with you to obtain the police report, take down witness statements and gather various other forms of evidence such as medical bills. Don’t worry if you can’t afford to pay a lawyer. If you have a good case, most car accident attorneys will work with you on a contingency basis – if you win, the lawyer gets a certain percentage of your recovery (typically 30 to 40 percent). If you lose, you pay nothing.
Contact Your Insurance Company (If You Have One)
Your lawyer will prepare a formal demand letter to your insurance company (or that of the defendant if he or she has been identified) that outlines the facts of your case, summarizes the supporting evidence, and requests a specific amount of compensation. If the insurance company forces you to negotiate, your lawyer will handle the negotiations. It is always better to let your lawyer negotiate on your half rather than negotiating alone against savvy insurance company adjusters. If the insurance company is stubborn, keep in mind that it will be much easier to deal with if the adjusters know you are willing to file a lawsuit rather than settle for inadequate compensation.
Hit and Run Accident Coverage
Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage will both pay out on a successfully established hit and run claim. Although uninsured motorist coverage is widely available, motorists are legally required to carry it in only 22 states. If you don’t carry any, it would be a good idea to sign up for it before you are injured in a hit and run accident.
Unfortunately, the states of California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana and Ohio do not allow you to use uninsured motorist property damage coverage to cover damages from a hit and run accident. Fortunately, other types of insurance policies, such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, collision coverage and medical payments coverage can cover you for these losses. Check your policy for details.