In the event of a crash, drivers have a responsibility to stop their vehicles, contact the necessary emergency services, and trade contact and insurance information for claim purposes. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident, they are commiting a crime. We call these types of accidents “hit-and-run” crashes.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there were 737,100 hit-and-run crashes in 2015 across the country. While many of these accidents only resulted in property damage, some resulted in serious injuries and even death. It can be overwhelming dealing with a hit-and-run; however, it’s important to remember there are steps you can take to protect your rights after the accident. Here are 5 steps you can take to protect your rights:
1) Seek Medical Attention
If you’ve been a car crash, it’s imperative to seek medical attention. Even if you initially feel okay, there are injuries, like whiplash, that can take days, weeks, or even months to exhibit signs or symptoms. Being evaluated by a doctor is the only way to ensure your visible injuries are taken care of properly and any invisible injuries are discovered.
Receiving medical care can also assist with your car accident claim. You will need to submit evidence to prove the damages sustained were a result of the accident. Official medical records and bills can be included in your claim, so you can receive compensation to cover those. You should never be burdened by medical expenses after you’ve been in an accident – especially an accident like a hit-and-run.
2) Collect Evidence
Depending on the location of the wreck, it can be difficult to prove a hit-and-run occurred. Following the crash, it’s important to do what you can to collect the following forms of evidence:
- Written Account. If you were present for the hit-and-run, write down everything you can remember about the accident. Record the date, time, and location. Try to recall anything you can about the vehicle that hit you, like the make, model, and color of the car, or even a partial license plate. Also, if you can, make note of the direction the car fled. If you were not present, still document the damage you see, as well as the date, time, and location.
- Photographs. Take pictures of the property damage your vehicle incurred. It’s also a good idea to take a wide shot of the general accident scene. Photographs can be used to determine how the accident occurred.
- Witness Accounts. If you are able to locate anyone who was present when the accident happened, they may be able to speak with police officers and provide information on the negligent party.
- Video Surveillance. If your accident occurred in a parking lot or at an intersection, there’s a chance there is video footage of the crash. Law enforcement can obtain the footage and use it to discover the identity of the guilty driver.
3) Report the Hit-and-Run Accident
Report the hit-and-run to local law enforcement as soon as possible. They will assess the accident scene, take note of your account of the event, and try to find the culprit. Even if they are unable to locate the guilty party, their report can be submitted to the insurance company and used in your favor. If they are able to locate the other driver, that person could face up to six months in jail, up to $500 in fines, and a minimum six months driver’s license suspension, depending on the severity of the accident.
4) File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
If you were hurt or your vehicle sustained damage in a hit-and-run, the following coverages can help you receive the compensation you need:
- Collision Coverage. This coverage helps you repair your vehicle.
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage. If you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run, this coverage can pay for medical bills and lost wages.
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage. This coverage can assist with vehicle repairs if collision coverage isn’t included in the policy.
- Medical Payment Coverage. This can assist with paying for the medical bills of the driver and passengers.
- Personal Injury Protection. This no-fault insurance coverage can assist with medical bills and lost wages, regardless of fault.
5) Contact an Experienced Attorney
At Thomas Law Offices, we understand how difficult it can be to recover from a car accident. The difficulty is often compounded when dealing with an absent guilty party. We can investigate your accident in an attempt to determine who committed the hit-and-run. We will also work to ensure you are offered a fair settlement from the insurance company. For more information on how you can benefit from seeking legal representation after your auto wreck in Ohio, contact us today.
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