A hit-and-run crash occurs every 43 seconds in the US. In fact, hit-and-run crashes account for almost 12% of all crashes in the country. As common as these accidents are, not everyone knows how to react after a crash.
Do you know what to do after a hit-and-run car accident? The steps you follow could help you file a lawsuit. Neglecting these steps, however, could impact your ability to receive compensation.
You need that compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Here are the seven steps you need to follow after a hit-and-run. With these tips, you can gather the evidence you need to make your case. Then, you can cover your losses and get back to your life.
Make your case with these seven tips today!
1. Get to Safety
After a crash, it’s normal to feel a little flustered. Try to take a few deep breaths. Remain calm and attempt to focus on the scene around you.
Otherwise, your emotions might get the best of you. Many people feel afraid, anxious, or angry. Lashing out in anger could have a negative impact on your case, though.
Instead, you need to remain calm and think ahead. Remember, the steps you take after a hit-and-run car accident can impact your case.
First, you need to move to safety. Find a safe place nearby that’s out of the way.
You don’t want to remain around incoming traffic. Otherwise, you could cause another accident.
Ensure your car is safe to drive before you move it. Take photos of the car’s position before you move to safety as well. Your car isn’t safe to drive if:
- Fluid is leaking
- There’s damage to the hood or engine
- The brakes or tires were damaged
When in doubt, stay put. Wait for the police to arrive. They’ll let you know if your car is safe to move.
In the meantime, it’s important to remain at the scene. Leaving the scene of the hit-and-run accident could have legal penalties.
2. Request Medical Help
Was someone injured in the crash? While you wait for the police to arrive, assess your injuries. Call for medical help right away if your injuries are severe.
In many cases, adrenaline will mask the worst of your pain. You might not realize you’ve assessed a serious injury until days or weeks after the crash. Don’t wait to see a doctor.
Only a medical professional can fully assess your injuries.
Chances are, your injuries go beyond a few scrapes and bruises. For example, were you hit from behind? Your head might have snapped forward, then back. The sudden force causes whiplash injuries.
Symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Low back pain
- Neck stiffness
- Pain in the arm or hand
- Numbness in the arm or hand
- Ringing in your ears
- Memory or concentration problems
- Blurred vision
Most people recover from whiplash injuries within a few weeks or months. Without treatment, the pain could persist longer, though.
If you experience neck or back pain after a hit-and-run, schedule an appointment with a chiropractor or physical therapist.
As you receive treatment, make a list of every doctor and specialist you meet. Track your treatments and medications, too. Your lawyer will need this information when building your case.
Otherwise, they’ll have a difficult time calculating your losses.
Don’t skip future appointments, either. Your car accident lawyer will need to prove you continued receiving treatment. Otherwise, the insurance company might argue your injuries weren’t as severe as you claimed.
3. Call the Police and Get a Copy of The Report.
Don’t neglect to call the police. In some states, you’re legally obligated to call and report a car accident. The police will also file an official police report, which you’ll need for your case.
Make sure to write down the police officer’s name and badge number.
As you give them your statement, make sure to stick to the facts. Let them know what happened without embellishment.
Did you notice any details that indicated who was driving the other car? Did you get a partial license plate number? While waiting for the police to arrive, write everything down.
You don’t want to forget any major details while you wait.
Once the police are done filing their report, ask for a copy. Your car accident lawyer will need the police report to build your case. They might call on the police officer as a witness, too.
4. Assess the Scene
While you wait for the police to arrive, take a moment to survey the scene of the crash.
First, take a look at your car. You’ll need to take full stock of the damages you sustained when building your case. Gather video or photo evidence of everything.
Visual evidence will help support any claims you make.
Remember to take photos of your car before you move it. Where is it located? What direction were you heading?
Walk around your car. Look for any leaking fluids, scratches, and dents.
Did any pieces fall off your car? Don’t step into traffic to retrieve it. Instead, let the police officer know when they arrive.
Take a lot of photos a few feet away from the vehicle. If you notice a specific issue, step closer for a close-up. Get photos on all four sides of the car.
5. Gather Evidence
It’s not enough to gather evidence of your damages, though. You’ll also need to write down anything else you remember.
What did you see before the other driver left the scene of the crash? For example, maybe you noticed:
- Their gender
- Physical qualities of the driver
- The color, make, or model of the car
- Their license plate number
Immediately after the crash, look around. Did someone witness what happened? Try to talk to them right away.
Ask for their contact information. Your lawyer might want to contact them later as a witness.
Then, ask them what happened. Did they see what direction the driver came from? Did they notice any helpful details about the driver or their car?
Look for security cameras in your area, too. If you notice a building with security cameras, write down the address. Your car accident lawyer can contact the building later.
Take photos or video footage of your surrounding area, too. What were the weather conditions like? Were there any potholes or obstructions on the road?
Remember to write down everything. In the weeks after your crash, it’s normal to forget certain details. Writing everything down will ensure you don’t forget anything important.
6. File an Insurance Claim
Call your insurance company while you’re still at the scene of the crash. Let them know you were in a hit-and-run car accident. They might have specific instructions they’ll want you to follow. Do not give them too much information as it’s better to talk to your attorney first. (Insurance companies can use any unprepared statement to potentially reduce your claim that your personal injury lawyer will help prepare)
For example, some insurance companies will have you use an app to file your claim. They’ll have you use their app to take photos of the damages as well. Make sure to use the app but also take additional photos.
Make sure to download this app before you’re in a hit-and-run accident. You don’t want bad phone service to present a problem in the future.
7. Call a Lawyer
After you leave the scene of the crash, call a car accident lawyer right away. Make sure to find a lawyer who has previous experience with hit-and-run car accidents.
Different lawyers specialize in different types of car accidents. Choosing a specialist can help your case. They’ll know which laws and procedures can impact your lawsuit.
Make sure they have years of experience in their specialty, too. How long have they practiced law? How long have they specialized in hit-and-run accidents?
Ask how long they’ve practiced law in the area, too. Some laws can differ based on your location.
There are over 135,000 personal injury lawyers in the US. It’s important to find one you can rely on. Otherwise, their lack of experience could impact your case.
As you develop a list of local car accident lawyers, head online. Check the local bar association to make sure their license is up-to-date. If not, cross them off your list.
Look for online reviews, too. How have they helped clients in the past?
Were their clients satisfied with the lawyer they chose? How much did they win from their case?
Schedule an in-person consultation with at least three lawyers on your list. Let them know what happened. Bring your evidence with you.
What outcome do they expect from your case? How can they help you? How much compensation do they think they can win from your case?
Don’t choose a lawyer who gives you guarantees. Instead, they should remain honest about the future of your case.
Then, review your notes. Which lawyer did you feel most comfortable with?
Trust your gut, choose a car accident lawyer, and file your lawsuit right away.
Make Your Case: What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Car Accident
Don’t stress out after a hit-and-run car accident. Instead, keep these tips in mind. By following these seven steps, you can gather the evidence you need to make your case.
With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can file your lawsuit and receive the compensation you deserve.
Want to talk to a Houston, Texas car accident lawyer about your case? We’re here to help.
Contact us today to get started.