Accidents can be stressful and overwhelming, but when you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, it can leave you feeling helpless. If there’s damage to your vehicle or an injury, the situation becomes even more complicated and frustrating.
Hit-and-run accidents are on the rise. In Chicago alone, 41% of deadly pedestrian accidents involved hit-and-run drivers between 2005 and 2015. In 2016, more than 2,000 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents.
Here’s what to do if you’re the victim of a hit and run accident.
1. Stay Calm, Call the Police and Get Medical Attention
Take a deep breath and stay calm. Instead of giving into anger and other emotions, take a moment to collect yourself and breathe.
Next, call the police. The accident should be reported to the police. Fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal. The police will want as much information as they can get about the vehicle and/or the driver.
If the accident resulted in property damage but no injuries, the fleeing driver could be charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run, which comes with a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
If the accident does result in injuries, the fleeing driver could be charged with a felony hit-and-run. Penalties vary from state to state, but the fine could be up to $10,000.
If you are injured in the accident, get medical attention immediately.
2. Write Down Vehicle Information
Write down as much information as you can about the other vehicle and driver. Any information that you have can be useful in helping find the other driver, including:
- Vehicle make and model
- Full or partial license plate number
- Description of the other driver
If you can’t remember anything about the vehicle or the driver, don’t panic. There may be nearby witnesses who did see the driver and/or the license plate number of the vehicle.
Write down anything you can remember about the other vehicle and/or driver.
3. Gather Witness Information
If you aren’t injured and remain at the scene of the accident, talk to nearby witnesses. Ask for names and phone numbers to provide to the police and your insurance company.
Someone may have gotten a license plate number or vehicle information that you might have missed. That information can be useful in tracking down the other driver.
4. Write Down Information about the Scene
Jot down as much information as possible about the accident scene and the events leading up to it, including the weather, road conditions and distractions.
Write down this information as soon as possible and while the event is still fresh in your mind.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
Report the accident to your insurance company. You may already have coverage for underinsured and uninsured motorists. In this case, the insurance company would cover the cost of repairing your vehicle if there is any damage.
There may be other ways to find the identity of the other driver. Traffic Recalls can dig through live traffic feeds to potentially find video of the accident and provide a you with a full report.