What You Should Do Following A Hit-and-Run Accident
You might feel disoriented and in shock after suffering injuries in a car crash. Auto accidents involving a driver that fled the scene can be devastating. Someone crashed into your vehicle and drove away without any regard for your safety or life. Knowing how to handle a stressful ordeal like this is crucial. You need to take steps to protect your rights and secure compensation for your medical expenses and other costs.
What Is A Hit-and-Run?
Someone commits a hit-and-run offense if:
- They’re involved in an accident that causes injury, death, or damage while operating a motor vehicle, and
- They leave the scene without stopping or providing their personal information to a law enforcement member or the other party involved in the crash.
Fleeing an accident scene is a misdemeanor crime. However, it becomes a felony if someone suffers an injury or death because of the hit-and-run. The defendant could face harsh penalties, including a prison sentence and expensive fines. You could file a civil lawsuit against them for financial compensation, so you’re not forced to pay for your own expenses.
Take Immediate Action If You Suffer Injuries In A Hit-and-run
A hit-and-run accident can cause a broad range of injuries to victims. What you decide to do next could impact the outcome of any legal action you choose to take. Be sure to call 911 to report what happened and remain at the scene until an officer arrives to take your statement. They might ask for a description of the other vehicle and speak to any witnesses who saw what happened.
Immediately seek medical care so a doctor can evaluate your injuries and determine the best treatment plan for you to recover. It’s crucial that you don’t wait long before your initial appointment or ER visit. The insurance company could use that against you to provide a low settlement offer, resulting in much less compensation than you need.
While you’re treating your injuries, hire an experienced lawyer to handle your insurance claim. They could try to track down the person responsible for the crash, but if they can’t, you might be able to recover compensation from your auto insurance company. Your lawyer can file the claim on your behalf and negotiate with the insurance company for a full and fair settlement. If they’re unable to reach a favorable amount of money, they might be able to move forward with a lawsuit.
You should also maintain thorough records of your treatment and expenses. Your medical records could be useful in proving what happened to you. There needs to be documentation of the injury you sustained and the necessary treatment to recover.
Be sure to attend all your doctor’s appointments until they release you from their care. Once you heal or reach maximum medical improvement, meaning your condition is not likely to improve with further treatment, you can move forward with your case.
Besides following these vital steps after a hit-and-run, you should also avoid specific actions at all costs, such as:
Don’t speak to the insurance company about your claim. You might think it’s an innocent conversation about the crash, but they could use your words against you. Insurance companies are rarely on the claimant’s side. Their goal is to save as much money as possible and avoid a large payout. If you say the wrong thing, they could deny your claim or offer a low settlement amount.
Don’t admit fault for the accident. Even though the other person caused it and fled the scene, you might think you’re partially to blame for the crash. Unfortunately, if you’re pursuing compensation from a lawsuit, the jury could diminish your monetary award if they determine your actions contributed in any way to the accident. Pure comparative negligence reduces the compensation you’re entitled to by the percentage of fault assigned by the jury.
Don’t sign any forms you receive from the insurance company. Many accident victims will fill out documents without knowing what they are. You could unwittingly sign away your rights to the total available settlement amount. Forward anything you receive from the insurance company to your attorney so they can review it to determine if it’s something you’re required to complete.
You Have Legal Options After A Hit-and-Run Accident Leaves You Injured
Don’t attempt to handle your insurance claim or lawsuit alone if you suffered injuries in a car crash. The other driver was at fault and should be held liable for their reckless actions. You can learn more about your legal options by contacting an experienced lawyer to discuss your case.