What Do I Do After a Hit and Run Accident?

Posted on January 8, 2024 in Car Accidents

A traffic accident can be a stressful ordeal that turns your life upside down and leaves you picking up the pieces. If you are the victim of a traffic accident and the responsible party flees the scene — a hit-and-run accident — you can be left with an even more frustrating situation. Determining how to identify the perpetrator, dealing with law enforcement and insurance companies, recovering from injuries, and not knowing where to turn for help can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, real assistance is available when you turn to a knowledgeable Phoenix car accident lawyer. Working with a lawyer with experience in dealing with hit-and-run accidents can give you a valuable advantage as you seek a path forward to put this difficult situation behind you. A skilled attorney can assist in taking the necessary steps to identify the responsible party, negotiate with insurance adjusters, explain your legal options, and guide you through each stage of the complicated process.

Following your hit-and-run accident and before you attempt to move forward on your own, it’s important to gain a basic understanding of the nature of hit-and-run accidents, know what you can do to help build your case, and what an experienced car accident lawyer can do for you as you pursue the type of outcome and compensation you deserve.

Overview of Hit and Run Accidents

What Do I Do After a Hit and Run Accident

In simple terms, a hit-and-run accident is a traffic accident where one of the parties (often the driver who is responsible for causing the accident) leaves the scene without providing any information or communicating with the other parties or law enforcement. This is not only an illegal act but also a highly frustrating thing to do when the other party (or parties) involved in the accident have suffered injuries or significant damage to their property. While each incident is unique, there are often common reasons why the responsible party may choose to flee the accident scene. A suspended license, lack of insurance, or an existing criminal record are some common motivations.

In any event, as the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you unquestionably deserve to have an opportunity to pursue justice and seek a resolution that effectively holds the perpetrator accountable for their actions and what happened to you.

Immediate Steps After a Hit-and-Run Accident

While no one expects to be involved in a hit-and-run accident when they are on the road, having a basic understanding of what you will need to do in such a situation can be beneficial. If you find yourself the victim of a hit-and-run accident, the things you should immediately do include:

  • Assessing the physical condition of anyone still at the scene — First and foremost, determine the health and safety of the individuals involved in the accident. Get everyone to safety.
  • Call emergency response personnel: Law enforcement and medical professionals should be summoned to the scene of the accident immediately, both to provide medical assessments to anyone involved in the accident and to start the investigation into the identity of the individual who was responsible.

Taking these steps immediately following the hit-and-run accident is critical when building a legal case and attempting to identify the person responsible.

Gathering Documentation

Hit-and-run accidents present a challenge in gathering information. If the driver who fled the scene doesn’t provide essential information, you must collect as much evidence and documentation at the scene (and afterward) as possible. The more information you can gather, the stronger your case will be and the better chance you will have to help investigators find the perpetrator.

Photographic Evidence

A skilled attorney can assist in taking the necessary steps to search for the responsible party’s identity. Photographic evidence can include photographs of your vehicle, any injuries you suffered, and the surrounding environment at the scene. Documenting the damage to your car, traffic signs and signals, road conditions, and any other potentially relevant information can be helpful. This detailed documentation not only strengthens your case but also serves as crucial evidence, providing a comprehensive portrayal of the accident’s circumstances, aiding in determining fault, and supporting your compensation claim.

Collecting Witness Information

Suppose anyone else in the immediate area saw the accident take place. In that case, they can provide information to identify the driver who caused the accident and strengthen your case. You should seek to collect names, contact information, and statements about the accident, which will be valuable evidence.

Noting the Time and Location of the Accident

The accurate recording of the accident’s time and location serves as crucial data in identifying the responsible party. Law enforcement can use this information to coordinate efforts to investigate the accident and the individual who left the scene.

Accurate location details about the accident scene will also aid law enforcement in identifying and apprehending the person who caused the accident.

Identifying the Perpetrator

The biggest challenge is identifying the individual behind the vehicle’s wheel that fled the scene of your hit-and-run accident. Despite this added difficulty, there are certain steps you can take to help law enforcement in the investigation of your case.

Description of the Vehicle

Describing the vehicle the responsible party was driving can be crucial in identifying its driver. Among the pieces of information that can be helpful, you should seek to provide investigators with the following:

  • Make, Model, & Color — You can help law enforcement narrow down the potential suspects by knowing the type and color of the vehicle.
  • License Plate Number — If you know the vehicle’s license plate number or can obtain this information from another witness or video camera footage, you can significantly increase the chances of positively identifying who was driving at the time of the accident.

Once law enforcement is made aware of the make, model, color, and/or license number of the vehicle that fled the scene, you have an improved chance of knowing who can be held accountable for the injuries and damages you suffered in the hit-and-run accident.

Witness Accounts

Engaging with individuals in the vicinity during the accident can yield valuable information usable as evidence. Any additional information regarding a description of the vehicle or its driver and the events of the accident itself may be beneficial. Building a comprehensive profile of the vehicle and the driver can put you and your case in a stronger position to move forward in an attempt to seek compensation.

Communicating with Law Enforcement

As with many traffic accidents, communicating with law enforcement is an important aspect of dealing with a hit-and-run accident. When reporting the accident to the police, you need to:

  • Provide as many details about the accident as possible. All information you can provide from your account and witness statements will help investigators assemble the pieces of the incident to identify the person responsible.
  • Continue to cooperate with the investigation — Maintaining communication with authorities and providing additional information as the investigation progresses will be helpful in the effort to track down the driver.

In addition to fully cooperating with law enforcement, obtaining police reports of the hit-and-run accident will be beneficial for your case when the time to take legal action arrives. Having these police reports at hand ensures that you possess essential documentation that supports your case and provides a detailed account of the incident as documented by the authorities.

Reporting a Hit and Run Accident

Reporting a Hit and Run Accident

After the accident has occurred, all parties who are still present receive medical attention; reporting the accident to law enforcement and your insurance company is another important step in seeking a resolution.

Filing a Police Report

As mentioned above, having an official police report on file for your accident is helpful not only from a criminal investigation standpoint but also for insurance and legal purposes. The police will use their report to build their investigation to determine who was driving the vehicle that caused the accident and fled the scene. Providing the police with as many details as possible will help officers compile a stronger report.

Contacting Your Insurance Company

Notifying your insurance company as soon as possible is a good move after any traffic accident, and a hit-and-run is no different. Be sure to provide your insurance provider with a clear (but concise) account of the accident. Provide only necessary details and avoid giving information that is not relevant. Allowing your attorney to handle communication later on is also a wise decision.

All of the information you have gathered regarding the perpetrator’s vehicle and witness statements, in tandem with the official police report, will provide your insurance company with helpful evidence as they create your claim. This compilation of details serves as crucial evidence, aiding in formulating your claim and offering a comprehensive perspective on the incident for your insurance company’s assessment.

The Importance of Getting Medical Attention

Following up with your healthcare provider (both immediately after the accident and later on) will be good for your overall well-being and any potential legal action you can take after your hit-and-run accident. Documenting your car accident injuries, all treatment provided, doctor’s visits, and other relevant information can be important in building your legal case.

Remember to adhere closely to your doctor’s treatment plan. Complying with medical advice helps you recover and strengthens your case to obtain compensation through an insurance settlement negotiation or legal proceedings.

Making sure you fully document any ongoing health issues and necessary treatment will also help paint an accurate picture of the challenges you are facing after your accident and the full amount of compensation you need.

Handling Insurance Claims

Handling Insurance Claims

Filing insurance claims and negotiating with providers is often frustrating and challenging, even during a standard traffic accident. Adding in the difficulty of not knowing the identity of the party responsible for the accident creates another layer of stress and complication.

One important aspect you need to be aware of is any provision on your insurance policy related to uninsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage is especially relevant in hit-and-run accidents where immediate identification of the responsible party becomes challenging when the driver who fled the scene fails to provide crucial information.

Being proactive and forthright with insurance adjusters and maintaining clear and open communication can also improve your chances of having a successful claim, even in the case of a hit-and-run accident.

Legal Options for Hit-and-Run Victims

Exploring legal options following a hit-and-run accident should be a priority. Hiring an attorney with experience in helping victims of hit-and-run accidents and learning about the options available will put you on the right track.

Working with a skilled lawyer will provide a valuable resource in all aspects of your situation, from maintaining communication with law enforcement investigations and insurance providers to filing lawsuits and pursuing the financial compensation you deserve.

Trust an Experienced Car Accident Attorney for Help After Your Hit and Run Accident

You don’t have to worry about facing the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident on your own. By turning to a lawyer with experience in helping people who have suffered damages due to a hit-and-run accident, you can get the guidance you need as you seek a favorable result. A hit-and-run accident can happen to anyone at any given moment on the road, so knowing what to do both at the scene of the accident and how you can go about taking legal action is helpful.

Though you may be frustrated by needing compensation from an individual you can’t initially identify, there are steps and a process you can follow to make things right. If you are successful, you may come away with financial compensation that assists in paying your medical bills, making up for lost income due to an inability to work, and repairing damage to your vehicle.

Bob Boatman, Phoenix Car Accident Attorney

Car Accident Lawyer, Robert W. Boatman

Your first objective is to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. With the help of a lawyer, you can put yourself in a strong position to identify the individual responsible for the hit-and-run accident, take the necessary steps to seek compensation and hold them accountable for the harm they have caused you. Contact a personal injury attorney today to schedule a consultation to start building your case.