A hit-and-run accident is where a driver intentionally flees the scene whiteout providing contact information or rendering aid. If you are a victim of hit-and-run accident, you may feel confused, angry, and frustrated. However, there are some steps that you can take to help you get through this unfortunate situation more smoothly.
1. Call the emergency number
If you need medical assistance, your health and health of people involved in the accident should be an absolute priority. In non-injury accidents, the police officers should still arrive if you notify the dispatcher that the other driver fled the scene. Having a police report on file can help the auto claims process and give you an official document to rely upon later.
2. Gather information
• Get as much information as you can about the car that hit you, including model, make, and license plate number. Jot down any distinguishing characteristics of the vehicle, such as dents, bumper stickers, or damage to the vehicle. If you had a chance to look at the driver, make a note of the physical description of the individual including race, hair color, gender, clothing etc.
• Look for any possible witnesses to the accident and ask for their names and contact information, so you can reach out to them later.
• Write down time and location of the accident.
• Take pictures of the scene if you can do so without putting yourself and others in danger. Take pictures of your car with its damaged parts and especially if it has paint from the other car (it will help you prove that you are not trying to defraud insurance company by providing a false claim).
3. Call your insurance company
Call your insurance company and make a claim using the information that you have already gathered. Often, uninsured motorist coverage from your insurance company covers hit-and-run accidents. There are two parts of uninsured motorist coverage:
• Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage pays for medical expenses.
• Uninsured motorist property damage covers car repairs.
Check with your insurance company what coverage you have. In some states and depending on coverage, your deductible maybe waived in hit and run claims.
4. Call an Attorney
After contacting the emergency services, one of your first calls should be to a hit and run attorney in California. The legal counsel may be able to start the process of gathering physical evidence and witness statement taken at the time of the crash. The evidence can be used to find the driver at fault or gather necessary information to help the insurance company evaluate potential coverage for the damages.
If the insurance company is requesting a recorded statement as part of its investigation, you should speak to an attorney as the insurance company maybe trying to deny your claim. Your statements can be misinterpreted and used in denying your coverage. Your legal counsel will be able to advise you of your rights in the claims handling process.
Finally, hiring an attorney may increase your odds of settling the case favorably or prevailing at trial.
Gene V. Halavanau, Esq.
Law Office of Gene Halavanau