What Can I Do if I Become the Victim of a Hit-and-Run Driver?
Experts estimate that hit-and-run drivers cause upwards of 11% of U.S. motor vehicle accidents. Given that over 6 million MVAs occur each year in the U.S., that means that hit-and-run drivers cause more than 660,000 of them.
If you become a hit-and-run victim, the most important thing you can do, even before calling 911, is to jot down whatever information you can about the fleeing vehicle and its driver, including the following:
- Make, model, and color of the vehicle
- License plate number if you happened to see it
- Any unusual identifying features of the vehicle, such as a bumper sticker or a logo or design painted on the side
- Any obvious damage to it, such as a bent fender, broken windshield, broken taillight, etc.
- Description of the driver if you saw him or her
If necessary, send yourself a text containing this and any other descriptive information you noticed.
Notify the Police
Then call 911 and report the accident, making sure to mention that a hit-and-run driver caused it. Request that the dispatcher sends law enforcement officers to the scene, plus emergency responders if you sustained injuries in the crash.
Stay where you are. Don’t attempt to pursue the hit-and-run driver. If you do so, you leave yourself open for leaving the scene of an accident citation.
If you’re not too injured to move, talk to any witnesses who saw the accident and get their names and contact information while waiting for officers to arrive. Also, visually inspect the area, looking for traffic cameras or surveillance cameras on nearby buildings. Again, jot down this information or send it to yourself in a text. Finally, take pictures of the accident scene, especially any damage that occurred to your car.
When officers arrive, share all your information with them. The sooner they can begin looking for the hit-and-run driver, the more likely they will find him or her. Also be sure to make a police report and find out when, where and how you can obtain a copy of it.
Should It Be Time to Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
Whether or not you sustain serious injuries, your best interests dictate that you contact a car accident lawyer Des Moines, IA from a law firm like Johnston Martineau, PLLP. Why? Because you could be in for a lengthy and complicated insurance battle, especially if the police never find the hit-and-run driver who caused the accident.
Depending on the laws of the state where you live, you may need to file a specific kind of insurance claim within a specific amount of time in order to receive any compensation whatsoever to pay for your damages. Your lawyer undoubtedly will know which of these laws apply to your accident and can advise you of what you need to do and how soon you need to do it.