While the vast majority of people are great drivers, there are always a few bad apples. Most Virginians never think about what to do in a hit-and-run car accident until it happens to them.
Here at the offices of Cravens & Noll, we see these types of cases frequently, and these can be challenging to solve.
In this blog, we tell you the several helpful tips you can follow if you’re a victim of a hit-and-run vehicle incident.
Pay Attention to the Car and Driver As They Escape
Assuming you are not seriously injured, try to remember all of the details of the other car as it leaves the accident. Make a note of the car make and model if you can, the color, any identifying features, and the license plate number and state.
In addition, try to remember where the damage is on the getaway automobile. If it happens near an intersection, take note of the street names and the direction of the fleeing car.
While it may not always be possible to see, look at the other car’s side mirror or rearview mirror and see if you can describe the driver’s gender, hair color, and age.
Write down everything you remember as soon as possible, or take notes on your smartphone if you don’t have pen and paper.
Do NOT Chase the Other Car
As tempting as it may be in the moment, NEVER chase after a car that flees the scene of an accident. Apart from being extremely dangerous, taking the law into your own hands could easily cause another accident.
Assess Your Injuries
Were you injured in the accident? Sometimes, you will not realize in the heat of the moment you may be injured. Whiplash and back pain may not surface until days later. Before doing anything else, make sure you are physically okay after the accident.
Once you have regained your composure, take a few minutes to take photos of the scene. Capture images of the vehicle damage, roadway markings, signs and your injuries. Take photos of any property damage outside on the vehicle.
Talk to Witnesses
Talk to the witnesses who may have seen the accident. Talk to employees of businesses nearby to check if they saw anything. Remember, people who witnessed your accident probably have a better perspective of everything that happened.
Get the contact information for anyone you speak with so they can give statements to the insurance company or during a personal injury lawsuit. Eyewitness accounts are often the key to solving hit-and-run accidents.
Contact the Police
The police should always be called after a car accident. They will take statements from anyone who is involved, and they will conduct an investigation to determine if they can track down the other driver.
The police report provides official documentation about the accident, and it will be used by the insurance companies and lawyers during the investigation.
Seek Medical Attention
Do not delay in receiving medical attention if you have been injured. If you wait weeks to see a doctor, claims adjusters and attorneys could argue you were not injured as a result of this accident or in very much pain because you took so much time to see a physician and be treated.
Even if you think you have minor injuries, you should seek medical care as soon as possible.
File a Claim With The Insurance Company
Hopefully, the person who fled the scene of your accident will be caught. When filing a claim with the insurance company, there are one of two scenarios which can occur:
If the Other Driver Has Insurance
This is the best-case scenario. You should file the insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance coverage.
You will not only be able to file a claim for all of your vehicle damages, but you will also be able to be compensated for your medical bills and injuries, provided the insured driver has enough coverage.
If the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance Or Not Enough Insurance
Many drivers who flee the scene of an accident do not have insurance coverage, their license is suspended, or they are wanted for other criminal offenses. You could hire an attorney and sue the other driver personally, but the other driver may not have the resources to pay for your damages. This is where your own insurance policy works for you.
Every policy in Virginia affords, as a matter of Virginia law, uninsured and underinsured motorist protection up to the amount of your own policy, just for these circumstances.
Filing a Claim With Your Own Insurance Company
With most hit-and-run incidents, you should contact your own insurance company to determine your coverage.
If you only have liability coverage on your insurance policy, you might be out of luck for the coverage of your vehicle repairs, but you will likely still have uninsured and underinsured coverage for your injuries.
Hire An Attorney
It is a good idea to consult with a hit-and-run attorney like Cravens & Noll. They can give you experienced and professional legal advice regarding your insurance claim and pursuing a lawsuit against the other driver. Insurance companies don’t have your best interests in mind, but an attorney will ensure you get the maximum compensation for your damages and injuries.
At Cravens & Noll, we handle multiple hit and run cases each year and have been quite successful in getting clients fully compensated for other types of claims. Contact Cravens & Noll today in Richmond or Harrisonburg to schedule your initial consultation.
Cravens and Noll, an experienced Virginia law firm, takes great pride in the trust our clients place in our counsel. In a time of crisis, experienced trial attorneys can provide the solutions needed, at a reasonable price. Providing quality legal representation, our law firm will develop a comprehensive strategy based on your unique financial situation. Before taking a case, Cravens and Noll lawyers provide free consultations for clients, we will never give you false expectations about the potential outcome of your case. You can count on a realistic assessment of your case, in order for you to make a sound decision.