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What Do I Do After a Hit and Run Accident?

What Do I Do After a Hit and Run Accident?

If you’ve been the victim of a hit and run accident, you may be feeling shaken up, angry, and unsure of what to do next. Being involved in any car accident is stressful, but hit and run accidents are especially upsetting because the person who caused the crash has fled the scene, leaving you to deal with the aftermath alone.

Huntington Beach hit and run accident lawyer

The most important thing to remember is that this was not your fault. The other driver acted recklessly and illegally by leaving without exchanging information or helping anyone who suffered an injury. You have every right to seek justice and compensation.

Although your first instinct may be to chase after the other vehicle, the best thing you can do is stay calm, assess the situation, and take steps to protect yourself physically, emotionally, and legally. Calling the police to report the accident and getting medical attention for any injuries should be your top priorities.

You’ll also want to start gathering evidence and avoid saying anything to the insurance companies that can jeopardize your case. And one of the most important calls you can make is to an experienced Huntington Beach hit and run accident lawyer who can advise you of your rights, deal with the insurance company, and fight to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.

If you’ve recently been the victim of a hit and run crash, keep reading to learn how to handle this challenging situation and get your life back on track.

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What is a Hit and Run Accident?

A hit and run accident is any collision where a driver intentionally leaves the scene without stopping to exchange information with the other parties involved or render aid to anyone injured. Hit and run crashes commonly involve parked cars, but they can also include accidents with moving vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians.

In all 50 states, it is illegal for a driver involved in an accident to flee the scene. Drivers are legally required to stop, share their license, registration, and insurance information with the other motorists involved, and report the accident to law enforcement if the crash resulted in injuries, death, or significant property damage.

There are many reasons why a driver may flee the scene of an accident they caused:

  • They were driving without a valid license or insurance
  • They were under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • They panicked and made a split-second bad decision
  • They had outstanding warrants or were driving a stolen vehicle
  • They were in the country illegally and feared deportation

However, regardless of the other driver’s reasons for leaving, their reckless actions are inexcusable. You shouldn’t be stuck with the bills for an accident that wasn’t your fault. A skilled car accident lawyer can explore all your options for compensation.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Your health and well-being should be your priority after any car accident, especially a hit and run. It’s best to get checked out by a medical professional right away for two important reasons:

  • You may be more seriously hurt than you realize: The shock and adrenaline of an accident can mask pain and symptoms, and some serious injuries like concussions and internal bleeding are not always obvious right away. Only a trained physician can properly diagnose your condition.
  • Documenting your injuries is key for your legal case: If you decide to file an insurance claim or lawsuit, you’ll need proof that the hit and run accident caused your injuries. Without prompt medical records, the insurance company may argue that you weren’t really hurt or that your injuries were pre-existing or caused by something else that happened after the accident.

If you have severe injuries, broken bones, brain trauma, or uncontrollable bleeding, get emergency care. Be sure to tell your doctor you were in a hit and run accident and share details of what happened and what hurts.

Be Careful What You Say to the Insurance Company

After a hit and run accident, you’ll need to notify your auto insurance company immediately. But it’s important to be very careful what you say. Remember, insurance companies are for-profit businesses that boost their bottom lines by minimizing payouts and denying claims.

Insurance Company settlement offers

Stick to the facts of what happened and avoid sharing your opinion, admitting any fault, downplaying your injuries, or saying that you’re “fine” or “okay.” Don’t give a recorded statement, sign any forms, or accept any settlement offers without consulting an attorney first.

The sad reality is that the insurance adjuster is not on your side, no matter how sympathetic and helpful they may seem. Their job is to fish for information they can use against you to devalue or deny your claim. They may even “forget” to tell you about certain benefits you’re entitled to under your policy or mislead you about the terms of your coverage.

That’s why it’s best to let a seasoned hit and run accident lawyer handle all communication with the insurance companies on your behalf. An attorney will know how to protect your rights and avoid the insurance company’s tricks. A lawyer can also negotiate aggressively for a higher settlement that includes all the damages you’re entitled to.

Understand Your Insurance Coverage

As the victim of a hit and run accident, you may be wondering how you’ll pay your medical bills and repair your vehicle if the police never catch the driver who hit you. The good news is that if you have the right types of coverage, you can file a claim with your own auto insurance company.

Here are some of the most common types of coverage that may apply in a hit and run situation:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM): This coverage steps in if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to fully compensate you. In most states, hit and run drivers are treated as uninsured motorists, so your UM/UIM coverage should pay for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering up to your policy limits.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Also known as “no-fault” coverage, PIP is required in some states and optional in others. It covers your medical bills and a portion of your lost income after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. PIP can provide immediate relief while you work with a lawyer to go after the hit and run driver.
  • Collision: This optional coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle after an accident. Normally, collision claims come with a deductible, but some states require insurers to waive the deductible for hit and run accidents.
  • MedPay: An optional add-on in most states, MedPay covers your accident-related medical expenses up to a certain limit, often $1,000 to $10,000.

If you don’t know what types of coverage you have, request a complete copy of your auto insurance policy. Your car accident lawyer can review it and explain what benefits you’re entitled to and the best strategy for getting fair compensation after a hit and run.

Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer

First Settlement Offer

At some point, after you file your hit-and-run accident claim, the insurance company will likely contact you with an initial settlement offer. As tempting as it may be to accept a quick check, be wary of settling right away.

Insurance companies are notorious for making “lowball” offers soon after an accident, hoping to take advantage of vulnerable victims who are feeling pressured by mounting medical bills. But their first offer is rarely their best offer. If you settle too soon, you may discover the amount wasn’t enough to cover your damages.

It’s also important to wait until you’ve reached “maximum medical improvement” (the point at which your doctor says your condition is stable and not expected to improve further) before settling your case. If you’re still undergoing treatment, you can’t be sure what your total medical expenses and future needs will be.

An experienced hit and run accident attorney can calculate the true value of your case – including future expenses and non-economic damages like pain and suffering – and negotiate with the insurance company for maximum compensation. With a skilled lawyer in your corner, you can focus on your recovery with the peace of mind that someone is fighting for every dollar you deserve.

Explore All Options for Compensation

In a hit and run accident, the police will do their best to investigate and bring the at-fault driver to justice. If they can locate the culprit, you can file a claim against that driver’s insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.

Unfortunately, hit and run drivers often get away and are never found. They may have been driving a stolen vehicle, using false plates, or there may not have been enough evidence or witnesses for the police to track them down.

If this happens in your case, don’t give up hope. A resourceful car accident lawyer can explore other potential sources of compensation, such as:

  • Your own auto insurance: As discussed above, your UM/UIM, PIP, MedPay, and collision coverage can provide essential compensation while your case is pending.
  • Other liable parties: Depending on the circumstances of the accident, there may be other parties with liability. For example, if the hit and run driver was on the job, their employer may be on the hook. Or if the driver lost control because of a mechanical failure, a repair shop or auto manufacturer may share the blame.
  • Your health insurance: If you have health coverage, your provider should pay your accident-related medical bills. Your lawyer can make sure your health insurer doesn’t overcharge you or place an improper lien on your settlement.
  • Victim compensation funds: Some states have special programs that provide financial assistance to victims of violent crimes, including hit and run crashes. A local personal injury lawyer can see if you qualify.

Don’t let the other driver’s bad actions prevent you from seeking the compensation you need to treat your injuries, fix your vehicle, and get your life back to normal. An attorney can leave no stone unturned in pursuing compensation on your behalf.

Be Wary of Private Investigators

After a hit and run accident, you may get a call from a private investigator claiming to be looking into your case. They may say they’re close to locating the driver who hit you and want to meet to get more information about your accident. Be very cautious in this situation.

While the idea of a P.I. tracking down the culprit and getting you justice may be appealing, the sad reality is that not all investigators are legitimate. Some may be working for the at-fault driver to trick you into saying something they can use to deny liability. Others may be outright scammers trying to get your personal information for identity theft.

For your safety and the integrity of your case, do not meet with or provide information to a private investigator without consulting your attorney. There’s no guarantee that a P.I. will actually locate the hit and run driver, and their involvement may end up hurting your case more than helping it. Let your lawyer advise you on the best course of action.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

Car Accident AttorneyBeing the victim of a hit and run accident can leave you feeling victimized and alone. But you don’t have to go through this challenging time alone. If you’ve suffered an injury by a reckless hit and run driver, take action to protect your health and your legal rights.

A seasoned hit and run accident lawyer can thoroughly investigate your case, handle all negotiations with the insurance company, and fight tirelessly to secure the maximum compensation you need and deserve. Your lawyer can also explore every potential avenue for holding the hit and run driver accountable and getting you justice.

The road to recovery after a hit and run crash can be long, but you can get there with the right medical care and strong legal representation. If you’ve suffered an injury in a hit and run accident, don’t wait to get help. Contact an experienced car accident attorney today for a free consultation and take the first step toward getting your life back on track.