Car accidents are scary enough, but when one of the parties flees the scene, things can become even more stressful. In all 50 states leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. Most culprits flee because they do not have a valid driver’s license or insurance policy, but did you also know that providing false information can also be considered a hit and run? If you’re involved in a hit and run accident, follow the dos and don’ts below:
DO get to safety. If you can, move your vehicle out of traffic.
DO call the police immediately. Always call the police if you’ve been in an auto accident. Creating a police report about the incident will be crucial to filing a claim with your insurance company.
DO gather as much information as you can. Even though the person and vehicle are no longer on the scene, immediately gather as much of the following information as possible, including:
- The license plate number
- The make/model/color of car
- The direction in which the driver took off
- The time and location of the accident
- A physical description of the person
- Pictures of the damage done to your car
DO search for witnesses. This can include a wide range of people, including, people who saw the accident occur, people involved in the accident, and responders to the scene. Ask the witness if they are willing to provide a statement to the police.
DO contact your auto insurance company. Every insurance policy is different, and yours may not cover hit and run incidents. To avoid being financially responsible for an accident you did not cause, make sure your auto insurance policy has at least one of the following coverages:
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: this can help provide coverage for any injury caused by an uninsured, negligent driver. In the case of a hit and run, the negligent driver is unknown and therefore uninsured.
- Collision Coverage: this can help cover the cost of repairing/replacing the damage to your car
DON’T leave the scene of the accident. Legally, you are obligated to stop if you’ve been in an accident. Failure to do so could lead to serious criminal charges if anyone was injured.
DON’T try to chase down the culprit. If you leave the scene yourself, you could be held legally culpable. Plus, chasing down the person who struck you could be potentially dangerous.
DON’T lose your temper. When someone puts you and your family in harm’s way, it is easy to let your emotions get the best of you. But getting angry is not productive or helpful in the aftermath of an accident. Don’t be aggressive or confront any of the other parties involved.