If you've ever had the misfortune of being in a hit and run auto accident, you probably felt angry, confused, and anxious. Unfortunately, one thing you shouldn't feel after such an event is lonely--almost 35 people are involved in a hit and run accident each day in Miami-Dade county alone!
That means it's vital for every motorist to understand what to do if they're involved in a hit and run collision. Some of the typical responses to an auto accident apply as they normally would, while other specific steps should be taken to help protect your rights and facilitate any insurance claims.
Step #1--Assess Your Condition
The most important thing to do immediately after a collision is to assess the physical health and safety of you and your passengers. This will determine if your first phone call is to request a non-emergency police officer or an emergency medical professional. However, even if everyone checks out as intact, you'll want to get an examination by a licensed medical professional in the near future. Only a professional can truly determine if any injuries are present.
To assess your condition, verbally ask if all of your passengers are feeling alright. That said, do not take anyone at their word--shock can make self-assessment almost impossible. You should have all passengers check everyone else for injuries before proceeding to the next step. If anyone is seriously injured, do not attempt to move them or the vehicle. Simply call 911 and wait for help.
Step #2--Move Your Vehicle And Begin Collecting Data
Assuming that everyone is in safe physical condition, you should immediately move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic. If your vehicle is operational, turn on your hazard lights and pull over to the nearest shoulder. If your vehicle is not operational, you should not attempt to push the vehicle off of the road. The presence of debris and damage to the vehicle could make this action impossible.
You should also try and come to a consensus with your passengers about some specific details regarding the offender's vehicle. These details include the:
- Type of vehicle
- Direction of travel
- Actions immediately after the collision
- License plate number
If you can enter this information into a smartphone or write it down on a pad of paper, that will help things along. If not, consider assigning words for letters in the license plate to help you remember. The NATO phonetic alphabet that you've probably heard used before is a great way to accomplish this.
You can also ask for the contact information of any witnesses at this time. Even if you were unable to gather key details about the offender, someone else might have caught them. Testimony from a witness can make your life much easier during the insurance claim/legal action process.
Step #3--File The Police Report
Once your head is straight on all the details, it's time to file the police report. If the collision is a minor one, you can probably drive to the police station to file this report. If your car is seriously damaged, however, consider requesting a police officer on site. They are trained to piece together the details of such a collision when they're at the scene of the accident.
Don't worry about pursuing the offender or initiating a police hunt for the person. If you have their license plate number, there's practically no chance at all of them escaping undetected. Just be sure to give the officer all of your information, and also obtain their name and badge number for your attorney.
Step #4--Contact Your Attorney
Once the report is on file, your attorney can tell you how to proceed. You'll want to share all of the information with them that you shared with the police officer. If any witnesses are available for contact, share that information with them as well. Contacting them before this point isn't important, since the police report will drive a lot of your attorney's efforts.
A hit and run accident is a frightening, awful experience. Be sure to keep a clear head, stay safe, and work through these steps in order should you fall victim to this nasty event. If you do, you'll give yourself the best chance at a speedy, positive resolution. Check out a go to site for more information on finding a lawyer.