According to a May 2016 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 15% of all fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in 2014 were pedestrians, up steadily from 11% in 2005. In addition, the NHTSA’s report stated that 18% of pedestrians killed in 2014 were struck by “hit-and-run” drivers – or drivers who left the scene without providing any identifying information.
Whether there are more cars on the road or more distracted or rage-filled drivers, it is increasingly likely that you may be involved in a serious traffic accident, and there’s nearly one chance in five that the offending party may leave the scene prematurely.
The hit-and-run driver is committing a crime by leaving the scene, leaving you behind to deal with the aftermath of what happened. Following these simple steps can greatly increase your peace of mind and potential to recover compensation for the injuries and trauma caused.
What should you do if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run?
- Remain at the scene and call for help. Whether you’re a pedestrian or a driver yourself, you may instinctively wish to chase after whoever just caused the car accident. You must resist the urge to do this. Your first concern should be your health and well-being. Are you hurt? Are the passengers in your car hurt? Call 911 and wait for the police and emergency responders to come to you.
- Try to record as much pertinent information as possible. Use what you have available – your phone, a tablet, camera, pen and paper – to record as many of your observations as possible. Don’t rely on your memory alone. Take pictures of your injuries, vehicle damage and the surrounding area. What happened? How did it happen? Can you describe the other car or driver? There may be eyewitnesses immediately nearby. Any information that you, your passengers or any available eyewitnesses can provide could prove to be helpful in bringing the offender to justice and recovering damages.
- Contact an experienced attorney to help you. Don’t plan on fighting this battle by yourself. You’ll need someone to represent your best interests solely. Do not rely on your insurance company alone to have your best interests in mind, regardless of whatever premiums you’ve paid. You may be eligible to recover compensatory damages, and you don’t want to embark on this process without an experienced attorney at your side.
- Contact your insurance company. Your attorney will provide proper guidance in dealing with your insurance company. Again, don’t speak to your insurance company without legal consultation or representation on your side.
- If the damage was to your car or other property without immediate personal injury, you may still be eligible to recover compensatory damages. You should report the incident to the police and follow the other steps above.