Hit and run accidents are more common than most drivers realize. Some drivers are not even aware they made impact with another vehicle while others fear the consequences of their reckless driving so they take the risk of running from an accident scene. Accidents in parking lots are common hit and run scenes because a driver can typically see if there are any witnesses to the accident and decide to run if there are no witnesses. It is rare for a driver to stop and leave a note on an unattended vehicle after he has struck it.
Do Not Follow a Hit and Run Driver
If a vehicle owner witnesses his car begin struck, there are things he should do immediately following the accident. He should NOT attempt to follow the car or chase it. One never knows the mental state of another driver and chasing someone or confronting someone about the accident could be a dangerous endeavor if the other driver is not mentally or emotionally stable.
A vehicle owner should write down as many details about the car as he can get including:
- License Plate State and Number
- Make and Model of Car
- Color of car
- Year of car if possible
A vehicle owner should also try to get a look at the driver and make a note of the driver’s age, weight, hair color, or anything particularly identifying (tattoos, piercing, clothing). The vehicle owner should then look around for any possible witnesses. He should note the time of the day, the address where it took place, and the direction the car was going when it left the accident scene.
Call the Police
He should not move his vehicle from the spot where it was struck. There may be clues based on the vehicle’s location or debris left at the scene that police will want to see. He should either call the police, or ask a witness to call the police while he gets details about the driver and the car. If anyone else witnessed the accident, he should ask them to stay with him until the police arrive. Witnesses are vital to a lawsuit and it is particularly strong evidence if their reports are written in the police report. If a witness cannot wait for police, a vehicle owner should get contact information for the other witnesses so police, or the vehicle owner, can follow up later for a report.
Getting Legal Help
A vehicle owner should first contact his insurance company following a hit and run. The insurance company will typically contact the insurance company of the reckless driver and payments for damages will be taken care by one or both of the companies. If an insurance company refuses to pay for the damage, offers less than the car owner needs, or if the reckless driver cannot be found, the owner should consult an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can work with the insurance company (and the other driver if he is uninsured) to make sure a vehicle owner is fully compensated.