Hit and Run Accident: What to Do Next?
A car accident, let alone a hit-and-run accident isn't something that you can necessarily prepare for, but you need to inform yourself on how to respond should you ever have to experience one. The incident becomes more stressful in the case of a hit-and-run accident. A hit-and-run accident is any collision where a driver's car, SUV, or truck hit a pedestrian or another vehicle, and the driver leaves the scene of an accident without providing identification or offering assistance. It does not matter whether the hit-and-run driver caused the accident or not. Some states also define as a hit-and-run when a car hits another in a parking lot, and the driver fails to leave a note with contact information on the other vehicle's windshield.
When you are involved in an accident, try to keep calm and in control; if possible, pull to the shoulder of the road and call the police. Be sure to scan the car and check if anyone was hurt or injured. The moment one of the motorists flees the scene, the accident becomes a hit-and-run, and from this moment, the typical process changes a bit.
What To Do If You’re In A Hit And Run
When you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, the process for reporting the incident changes since you don't have the cooperation of the accused driver. If the driver decides to run, assess the situation by following the steps below:
- Don't chase after the fleeing driver and try to remain calm.
- Report the accident to the police and call the proper authorities
- Check for any injuries and administer first aid if necessary.
- Try to write down the make, model and license plates of the other vehicles involved.
- Collect the names, addresses and phone numbers of all passengers and witnesses.
- Take photos of the accident scene if possible.
- Do not admit fault. Always wait for the police to arrive before assessing blame.
- Ask the investigating officer how to obtain a copy of the police report.
- Notify your agent or insurance company immediately.
Is a Hit and Run Considered a Felony or Misdemeanor?
Some people flee the scene because they are not properly licensed or insured. An active, valid driver’s license is required to drive a vehicle; having the right insurance coverage safeguards you while driving. In many states, a hit-and-run is considered a misdemeanor that results in fines, while in more extreme cases, a hit-and-run accident can result in a felony and more serious criminal charges. In circumstances where the accident was fatal, the hit-and-run driver could be charged with the death of the victim.
Does Insurance Cover Hit-And-Run Accidents
Auto insurance policies contain three principal elements: liability insurance for bodily injury, liability insurance for property damage, and uninsured/under insured drivers.
Let’s break it down into their basic coverage areas:
- Liability coverage – covers liability and expenses when you are at fault
- Bodily injury liability – covers the medical expenses of injured parties when you are at fault
- Property damage liability – pays for damages to the other vehicle and the property of others when you are at fault
- Personal insurance protection (PIP) – covers medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – covers your costs if the party who hit you does not have insurance or the coverage they do have is not sufficient
- Collision – covers repairs to your car; if don’t own your car, it is a requisite
- Comprehensive – covers damages or theft of your vehicle outside a collision
You can also purchase insurance to protect your car. Coverage is determined by your state requirements and what your insurer offers. Some states have no-fault laws, which is to say that instead of bringing a lawsuit, each party seeks recovery directly from his/her insurance. The following coverage is geared to drivers in those states:
• 50/100/50 – recommended for older vehicles and few assets; also, students and some retirees may opt for this level
• 100/300/100 – suggested for middle-income earners with savings and other assets
• 250/500/100 – recommended for those in the higher financial tiers
Common Questions about Hit-and-Runs
How long after a hit-and-run will police contact you?
Once the police arrive on the scene of the accident, they will typically begin collecting details for their police report and subsequent investigation. On average, the police report may take up to 10 days to process, at which point you should be able to pick up the police report at the respective precinct.
Is a parked car covered for hit-and-run damage?
This is largely determined by the level of coverage your insurance policy carries. If your auto-policy includes comprehensive coverage, this covers damages to your vehicle outside a collision. This is usually a form of supplemental coverage that drivers get for added security.
What is considered a hit-and-run accident?
A hit-and-run crash is any accident where one of the drivers flees the scene. This can happen when both vehicles are being driven and occupied or can occur when one of the cars is parked and unoccupied. In large cities, the latter is a much more common occurrence.
Get Coverage That’s Right For You
Keep in mind that each driver’s needs are unique and best served by consultation with a trusted agent. Always have the necessary coverage to protect yourself and your loved ones: ask about the right coverage for you and your family within your state’s requirements. Keep safe and know what to do if an accident happens.
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