This entry was submitted by one of our guest authors. The author’s opinions are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Dolman Law Group.
Johnny was excited to go to Cassie’s apartment. It had been a long work week, and the idea of chilling out with some of his close friends was appealing. The only downside was the parking situation at Cassie’s apartment. The complex didn’t have parking spaces for visitors, so guests were forced to park on the street. This always made Johnny a little nervous simply because it was a busy street. He didn’t like the thought of leaving his car unattended for a few hours. As Johnny circled along the outside of the building, there wasn’t any parking available close by so Johnny had to drive a little way up the street to park.
The party was fun. Johnny was able to see some friends that he had not spoken to in a long time. As he left the party and went out to his car, he groaned as he saw an enormous dent in the driver’s side door. Johnny quickly surveyed the area to see if any other cars had been hit like his or if there were any sign of someone who could have possibly seen something. The street was empty and quiet. Johnny sat staring at the huge indentation. What was he supposed to do now?
Car accidents are bad enough, but there is certainly an additional feeling of powerlessness that accompanies a hit and run accident that does not necessarily accompany a regular car accident. A hit and run accident is an accident wherein the driver leaves the scene of the accident without giving you contact information. These types of accidents can happen almost anywhere your car is located. They can happen while driving; they can happen in parking lots, etc.
After a hit and run, victims are usually left feeling helpless because they don’t know who performed the act; whereas, after a car accident, they can confront the owner of the car that did the damage. There also isn’t really effective measures you can take to ensure that you aren’t the victim of a hit and run. To help alleviate some of the feelings of helplessness after a hit and run accident, here are five steps you should follow after a hit and run accident.
Call the Police—Sometimes the police can locate the person who caused the hit and run. After calling the police, file an accident report. You will want to include all the details from the hit and run that you accumulate (listed below). The more information the police have, the greater the chances of them locating the hit and run suspect.
Collect Information—This can be difficult because the definition of a hit and run is someone hits your car and leaves without any information. However, if you can see the person who hit you, try to get a license plate number, the vehicle’s make, model, and color, which direction the vehicle was heading, or other descriptive information. You will also want to document what happened as soon as possible. Type in your phone’s notes the location, the time of day, etc. Also, consider taking pictures of the damage to your car. All of this information can be helpful for police.
Look for Witnesses—Although this may not always be feasible, asking around if anyone saw what happened just might be the clue you need to help the police.
Inform Your Insurance Company—Unfortunately, if you have the minimum amount of car insurance allowed, then there might not be as many options. You will likely have to pay for the damage out-of-pocket. However, if you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage or UM Coverage, then you can file a claim, and your own insurance company can pay for much of the damage and injuries that can be sustained by a hit and run. By calling your insurance company, they are able to start the claims process. There are options with your own insurance so that you are not left to foot the bill alone.
Stay Calm—This is easier said than done. Taking a few deep breaths can aid in clearer thinking. Unfortunately, thousands of people suffer from hit and run accidents every year. Often, victims will feel guilty as though some behavior on their part could have prevented this. For example, Johnny might have started to beat himself up because he parked far away from his friend’s apartment building. This kind of thinking can be unproductive and only exacerbates the overall problems associated with a hit and run. Keeping calm and understanding there wasn’t much you could have done to prevent this outcome can help make the overall experience less stressful.
The list above is not meant to be exhaustive following a hit and run accident. Obviously, parts of it might need to be adapted to fit individual circumstances. When you have questions regarding accidents or what options you have following a hit and run, sometimes, speaking with can be helpful. He/she knows the insurance processes and will know if there are any unique laws in your state that can help in this process. Unfortunately, an experience like the one experienced by Johnny happens. However, knowing what to do in the wake of such issues can provide peace of mind and alleviate stress.