A hit and run accident is any accident in which a driver hits a vehicle, property, or an individual and flees the scene without leaving contact information. Hit and run accidents can happen while cars are parked as well as when cars are in motion. While it may be more difficult to recover compensation after a hit and run accident than after an accident in which the driver willingly supplies personal information, it is possible for victims to recover costs.
Immediately After a Hit and Run
The steps taken immediately after a hit and run accident have a profound impact on whether or not the faulty driver is caught and held liable. First, if a victim is driving when the accident occurs, the victim should pull over. Continuing to drive after being involved in an accident can be dangerous, as impact injuries may not be felt immediately. Shock and stress are also common reactions to an accident, which may make driving dangerous. While hit and run victims may feel compelled to follow the faulty driver, this can put the victim in more danger and decrease the chances of recovering compensation.
After stopping a vehicle which has been struck, a hit and run victim should attempt to collect as much information as possible about the vehicle that caused the accident. If possible, the victim should try to take photographs of the vehicle and the license plate before it is out of sight. If it is not possible to obtain photographs, the victim should write down everything that was noticed about the vehicle. Taking pictures of the damaged vehicle may also serve as evidence and provide information.
Characteristics that may be helpful in identifying a hit and run driver include:
- Vehicle make
- Vehicle model
- Color of the vehicle
- Style of the vehicle (SUV, car, truck)
- Window tint or decals
- Identifying blemishes
- Identifying customization
- License plate characters
- License plate style and color
- Driver appearance
If there are any witnesses present, hit and run victims should collect information from the witnesses. Witnesses may have seen more identifying features on the faulty vehicle that can be helpful in identifying the driver. Hit and run victims should ask witnesses for contact information, as witness testimony may be helpful. This is especially true in cases where insurance companies accuse the driver of hitting an object and claiming that a hit and run occurred.
Filing a Police Report
Filing a police report may help hit and run victims to identify the party responsible for the hit and run. If the faulty party is caught, the police report will also be a helpful source of documentation to use as evidence. Whether or not the party is identified, a police report may be useful when filing a claim with an automobile insurance company.
Filing a Hit and Run Claim
Hit and run accidents are generally covered under uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage if the faulty driver is not able to be identified. In some cases, car insurance companies will waive deductibles for hit and run claims. If the faulty driver is identified, the hit and run victim can file a claim against the other drivers insurance. If the hit and run driver was uninsured or carried coverage that is not sufficient to cover costs, victims may be able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation.
Hit and Run Accident Consequences
Drivers that are found guilty of hit and run accidents may be subject to criminal and administrative penalties in addition to covering the costs of damages and injuries. Criminal and administrative penalties may include fines, jail time, and license suspension. The hit and run victim may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and vehicle damage. In many cases, courts triple the amount owed to victims of hit and run accidents in order to punish the faulty driver’s behavior.
“Hit and Run – Bad to Worse.” A Safer Florida: Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. State of Florida, n.d. Web. 25 Sep 2014. <http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/hitrun/>
“The 2014 Florida Statutes.” Online Sunshine. The Florida Legislature, n.d. Web. 25 Sep 2014. <http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.193.html>
“Tips For Handling A Hit And Run Driver Claim.”DMV.org. DMV.org. Web. 25 Sep 2014. <http://www.dmv.org/tips-for-handling-a-hit-and-run-driver-claim.php>