Car accidents happen all the time, and most people have experienced one at least once. Since there are more than 221,000,000 registered driver’s licenses in the United States, that translates to a lot of accidents.
When an accident happens, usually both parties pull over to the side of the road (if they can) and call the police. They may exchange car insurance information or work out a deal between themselves to take care of the damages.
Sometimes though, a driver will flee the scene after a car accident. This is a hit and run car accident, and what you do afterward is very different from a typical accident.
Learn what to do if you’re ever the victim of a hit and run accident by following the seven steps below so you can get compensation.
1. Don’t Drive Away
Even if you are not injured, never try to chase after the hit and run driver. It could put you in harm’s way and also create doubt for your claim.
Stay in the place where the accident happened, but get to a safe position. If your vehicle is in the middle of the road and you cannot move it, stand on the edge of the road nearby, so you’re out of the way of other cars.
2. Call 911 as Soon as You’re Safe
Once you find a safe location, call 911. The chances are that someone else already called when they witnessed the accident, but it’s smart to call yourself as well.
Inform the dispatcher of what happened and whether or not you suffered an injury. Always provide your number to the dispatcher in case the line gets connected.
Try to give the 911 dispatcher as much information about the hit and run vehicle as possible, including what direction they drove off in.
3. Write Down Everything You Remember While You Wait
While you wait for the police and ambulance to arrive, write down everything you can remember about the accident while it’s fresh in your mind. If you cannot write, use the memo app on your phone to take down a voice message. Try not to leave out any detail, no matter how small.
Be sure to include the following about the hit and run vehicle, if you can:
- The type of vehicle like a pick-up truck, SUV, van, sedan, etc.
- Any part of the license plate that you remember from a few digits to the state plate, logo, or a vanity tag
- If it was a 2-door or 4-door vehicle
- The color, model, and make if you know it
- If it had any accessories like a luggage or bike rack, or a trailer hitch
- Unique bumper stickers, decals, or paint
- Any cracks, missing parts, broken lights, or dents
- Distinct noises like a loud muffler, squeaking belt, or noisy brakes
You should also try to give details about the driver, if you got a look at them, including:
- Approximate age
- Distinguishing features like hair color, a beard, glasses, a hat, etc.
- Whether or not they were smoking
- Any passengers in the car, how many, and what they looked like (if you could see them)
If you had passengers in the vehicle when the accident occurred, be sure they do the same thing. Don’t be afraid to include your feelings of fear or any physical pain you’re experiencing.
Continue to write down how you feel every day after the accident. Make a diary to record your medical treatment and struggles as a record of how the accident impacted your quality of life.
4. Talk to Witnesses
If anyone saw the accident and stopped to see if you are okay, ask for their name and contact information. These witnesses could be vital to verifying an injury claim.
Ask them to write an account of what they witnessed with details about the vehicle and drive.
If the accident took place near a business, ask if anyone inside saw something or if they have outside security cameras that may have caught the accident. Even if the store owner doesn’t want to turn over a copy of the footage, your personal injury attorney can subpoena it.
5. Get Medical Attention
Always accept medical attention at the scene of the hit and run. You never know if you have a severe injury that you cannot see from the outside like internal bleeding or a brain injury.
The shock of the accident may mask some of your symptoms. So if you do not go to the hospital immediately afterward, you still need to have a medical evaluation that same day.
Call your primary care physician or go to an urgent care center. Report anything you’re feeling and make it clear how the injuries occurred. If you don’t get medical help, it can hurt your later claim.
6. Take Pictures
Before you leave the scene of the accident, take pictures of your car and the surrounding area from every angle possible.
Aim for close-ups of the damages to your vehicle and any debris in the road. Take pictures of your injuries at the scene and during the examination. Use video if it’s easier to document them. This can significantly help as evidence in your injury claim.
7. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Hit and run car accidents have increased in the last few years. Deaths from hit and run car accidents have increased 7.2% every year since 2009, with more than 2,000 hit-and-run deaths in 2016 alone.
Do not mess around after a car accident, and get help from a personal injury lawyer immediately. A lawyer will help you get compensation for your injuries and damage to your car by filing a lawsuit.
Find Great Life Advice on More Than Just a Hit and Run Car Accident
No one sets out to become the victim of a hit and run. It’s one of those things in life that happens. If you follow the steps listed above, you’ll find it much easier to move on with your life after a hit and run car accident.
Wish you could get more helpful advice on the other things that life throws at you?
Check out the My Zeo blog! You’ll find tons of great advice on life’s biggest challenges from health and fitness to managing your household and financials.
Find it all on My Zeo today!