Being in a car accident is a traumatic and chaotic experience. While you may have some idea of the steps to take after a car accident, such as checking everyone for injuries and obtaining contact and insurance information, this becomes impossible if the other driver leaves the scene.
Unfortunately, this does happen. Although the law requires drivers to stay at the scene of a car accident, sometimes drivers immediately flee.
In fact, the American Automobile Association reports that approximately 11% of all accidents involve at least one driver who flees the scene.
Why drivers leave the scene
There are various reasons that drivers might flee. They may fear legal trouble if they were driving while drunk or have an open warrant out for their arrest. Sometimes drivers that do not have car insurance leave the accident because they do not want to be issued a citation.
Even drivers with insurance sometimes leave the scene because they worry about being found at fault for the accident and their insurance rates rising or having to pay money out of their own pocket.
Contacting the police is one of the first steps you should take after checking for injuries. However, if the police take too long to arrive, the other driver might leave out of impatience.
Despite the many reasons the other driver might leave, you have a right to be upset, especially if you believe they caused the accident.
What to do after a hit-and-run
There are some steps you can take if the driver has left.
Try to get as much identifying information as you can. You are likely to be in shock immediately after the accident, which could cause you to not remember everything correctly.
However, try to get the other driver’s license plate number before they leave. If that is not possible, try to remember all the characteristics of the vehicle. This includes the make, model number, color and any special features, such as tinted windows.
Talk to any witnesses who remain at the scene. Get their names and contact information. They might have information about the other driver that you were not able to obtain.
When the police arrive, make and get a copy of the police report. Let the police know about any witnesses and include them in the report.
Do not go after the other driver or get angry
Do not try to chase the other driver down or catch them. This puts you and others in further danger of injury or an accident. It could also alter the accident scene, which should be kept preserved so investigators can determine what happened.
Stay calm and do not get upset or angry. Remember that you have insurance for situations like this.
Even if the other driver is not identified, you might still be able to make a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage.
The purpose of this insurance is to compensate you for your damage. Gather as much evidence from the accident scene as you can to increase the chance of your claim being accepted.
A hit-and-run accident typically makes the insurance claim process more complicated, so it is best to have guidance when filing your claim.