What To Do After A Hit And Run Accident
Car accidents can be traumatic, and hit-and-run accidents compound feelings of hopelessness and overwhelm. Arming yourself with knowledge on how to manage a hit-and-run accident can help you stay calm and reduce anxiety.
The following information is helpful to understand the situation, learn how to respond, and identify where to get legal help if needed.
What Is A Hit-And-Run Accident?
An accident is considered a hit-and-run if the driver at fault flees the scene after making an impact.
Normally, both parties assess damages, exchange contact information, and work together to mend the situation. Yet hit-and-run accidents leave the affected party without closure or contact as the responsible driver continues driving without stopping.
California Hit-And-Run Laws
In California, there are strict laws surrounding hit-and-run accidents, and the offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on property damage or fatalities.
If the fleeing driver is identified, they are liable to hefty penalties. For example:
- The driver faces up to six months imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 in the instance of property damage without injury.
- The driver faces up to one year in a state prison or county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000 in the instance of injuries after a hit-and-run.
- The driver faces up to four years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 in the instance of death or permanent injuries.
With these consequences in mind, it’s important to stay at the scene of the accident and follow the correct process.
What To Do After A Hit-and-Run Accident
The following steps ensure you are protected to the best of your ability in an unfortunate situation:
The safety of you and your loved ones is a top priority, and the first step should always be confirming that everyone is safe. If possible, move your vehicle out of the traffic flow and confirm that no serious injuries have been sustained. In the instance of injury, call for medical attention.
Document The Details And Collect The Evidence
Gather evidence and document the details of the accident while the event is still fresh in your mind. Take notes of the driver, the vehicle, and how the accident unfolded. If there are any witnesses in the area, ask for their contact numbers to corroborate your story. Take photographs of all damage and ask if anyone recorded the incident.
Call The Police
As soon as you’ve confirmed there are no injuries, you must call the police. When the officer arrives on the scene, provide all the necessary details to help the officer make a report of the accident. Be sure to ask for a copy, especially if you plan to claim from insurance.
Get In Touch With Your Insurance Provider
Contact your insurer and file a claim for any damages or injury. While each insurance company has its own requirements, most demand that the claim is filed within 30 days of the accident.
Review Your Insurance Policy
The type of insurance policy determines whether the insurance company will cover the cost of damages or medical bills. Lack of insurance is a common reason drivers may flee the scene of an accident.
In California, drivers are required to carry at least a minimum amount of bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. However, this coverage can be quite limited. Get in touch with your insurance company and ask how your policy handles a hit-and-run scenario.
Connect With A Qualified Lawyer
When in doubt, an experienced lawyer can help you out. Real Deal Attorneys helps you connect with reliable legal counsel that offers insight and expertise on Southern California legal matters.
Experiencing a hit-and-run accident can be traumatic enough on its own. Let us help you reduce any stress and complications. Give us a call at (424) 367-1271 to find out more.