After a typical automobile accident, all drivers involved in the accident exchange information so insurance companies and civil court can sort out necessary awards to cover medical costs, repair damages and potentially compensate for any lost wages on part of the victim. It is the responsibility of drivers involved in an accident to respond by at least contacting medical assistance if an injury has occurred. If the accident is particularly severe, the police must be notified. However, there are times when victims of car accidents won’t have the ability to exchange information, let alone the chance for police to take all information down at the scene. More often than not, cases like this are the direct result of hit-and-run accidents, when one driver intentionally flees the scene without giving out any of his or her information to another.
Accidents in and of themselves can be jarring experiences that leave you disoriented and possibly even injured to some extent. If you happen to be the victim of a hit-and-run, however, these conditions might impair your judgment and lead to reckless decisions if you aren’t careful. First and foremost, if you are part of a hit-and-run accident, avoid any and all temptation to chase after the driver who left the scene. Chasing haphazardly after someone who is already fleeing could lead to dangerous driving and potentially cause another accident. It is better you remain at the scene and gather what information you can if you are not seriously injured. Try to identify the car’s make, model and license plate number and record this information for the time when you file a police report. Find witnesses around the scene and gather as much information as you can from them: their names, their contact information and their version of the events. If you are able, take pictures of the scene. Tire treads on the road near the scene of the accident or foreign paint marks on your vehicle can work as very convincing arguments. This will add more weight and credibility to your claim. If, by chance, you can identify the actual person who hit you, the possibility opens up for your insurance company to retrieve pertinent information that will allow you to file a report directly with the other driver’s insurance company.
File the report with police as soon as possible. Give them all information that you were able to gather so they may begin their investigation more effectively. Even if the investigation is slow-going or police are unable to find the other driver involved in the accident, official reports will still aid you in the auto claims process if need be. Once you have filed a report with the police, be sure to seek medical attention. Even if your injuries don’t initially seem severe, there is often a risk of soft tissue injury in auto accidents. These types of injuries may have further-reaching consequences and require more medical treatment even after a claim has been settled. Be sure that your doctor documents all possible short-term and long-term risk and any treatment that may become necessary at a later time. It might be a good idea to consult a personal injury attorney about your case to explore your legal options for recovering damages even if another driver is not found.
Even if a driver who fled the scene is discovered by police, there still exists the possibility that they will not have sufficient insurance coverage or even any coverage at all. In cases like this, you can still pursue recovery of damages through a couple different processes. One process is a no-fault claim, also known as a personal injury protection claim, that you would make through your own insurance company depending on your residence and the condition that you can prove no-fault. In many hit-and-run cases, it isn’t particularly difficult to prove no-fault, although there is always a small consideration for insurance fraud. Oftentimes, this claim will not necessarily compensate all losses or cover all of your medical bills, but it is better than nothing at all.
If you cannot file a no-fault claim, there may be portions of your own insurance that may be used for underinsured or uninsured driver coverage. The purpose of this coverage is specifically to protect you in the event that you are in an accident that is proven to be the fault of the other driver and the other driver does not have insurance (or at least insurance that can cover damages). Understanding the exact amounts to which you are entitled in these processes can be a bit of work, but it is still a more viable option than nothing at all if you don’t have the ability to file a no-fault claim with your own insurance company.
Regardless of the methods used to seek damages for the accident, always be sure to keep the long-term effects of the accident in mind. If your doctor deems that your necessary treatments may extend well into the future, it is best to take this into consideration if you are attempting to settle in a courtroom setting. It is best to consult a personal injury attorney regarding your options and the best possible way to proceed.
About The Author
Randall F. Rogers is a personal injury lawyer that practices in the small suburb of Marietta, outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Originally working at a large firm, he left to work on his own, so he could work closely with individuals and help them seek justice. When not walking to and from the court house, he can be seen discussing gardening with the community or reading a book from his favorite author Henry David Thoreau.