Leaving the Scene of an Accident: The Definitive Guide to Hit and Run Laws in the U.S.A

Car accident

Did you hear about DJ Jinx Paul?

Working as a popular on-air radio personality, DJ Jinx lost his life in a hit and run accident. Thankfully, about 5 days after the incident, the at-fault driver, Kevin Ozoria finally surrendered.

Ozoria soon found himself facing felony charges for leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in a death. Ozoria also had to deal with tampering charges because he took his vehicle to an auto body repair shop.

Were you or a loved one recently in a hit and run accident? Read on to learn about hit and run laws, as well as how to protect your rights!

What to Do Immediately After a Hit and Run

Running after an accident is never okay. To get the most use out of hit and run laws, you’ll want to make sure you do all of the right things.

For starters, you should never go after the at-fault driver, even if they’re slowly fleeing the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident will compromise your case, as well as your health and safety.

Next, don’t hesitate to call the police as soon as you safely can. Insurance companies are going to want a copy of an official police report. If you can’t provide one, your claim will likely be denied.

Moving on, it’s always a good idea to go to the hospital from the accident scene. Allowing an ambulance to take you to the hospital will help you in a couple of ways.

First, you’ll be getting immediate care to help minimize the extent of your injuries. Second, if you start a hit and run lawsuit, your lawyer will have an easier time getting you a large settlement if they link the accident to the injuries. By leaving in an ambulance you’ll have an easier time connecting your injuries to the accident.

Gather Evidence

Moving on, see if there are any witnesses at the scene of the accident. Whenever there are witnesses, politely ask for their contact information.

Also, kindly ask the witnesses to stay to report to the police. If the accident took place a few days ago, go check if any cameras may have caught the accident on tape.

Details About the Accident to Record

It’s also a good idea to take your phone out at the accident scene. Start by using the voice recorder on your phone to capture. Say everything you remember about the accident and the other driver. The sooner you record yourself, the more fresh your memory will be.

However, if your accident happened hours or days ago, you can still use the voice recorder technique. Saying things out loud can help trigger crucial parts of the story you had forgotten.

Here are a few key pieces of information to try to recall:

  • License plate
  • Other vehicle description
  • The direction you were driving
  • The direction of the other driver

Be as specific as you can when you’re recounting what caused the accident to happen. Also, even if you only remember part of the license plate number, go ahead and record it. You never know when a partial plate will help the authorities catch the at-fault driver.

If you give a good description of the damage that the other vehicle had after the accident, it’ll be even easier for the authorities to help out. Finally, in addition to the things on the list above, record the time, location, and date the incident took place.

Hit and Run Accident Types

Did you know there’s more than 1 type of hit and run accident? Instead of only being limited to being hit while driving, hit and run laws extend to help victims in a variety of circumstances.

A hit and run occur anytime a vehicle hits a vehicle, object, or a person, and leaves the scene on purpose before providing their information. It’s even considered a hit and run if someone strikes an animal and leaves before reporting the incident and providing their information.

Why Drivers Flee Accident Scenes

Are you wondering why someone hit your or your vehicle and then took off? Here’s a common list of reasons drivers flee accident scenes:

  1. No insurance
  2. Not licensed
  3. Suspended license
  4. Driving impaired
  5. Afraid of law

Lastly, sometimes drivers leave the scene of an accident because they don’t take it seriously. Perhaps they thought they barely tapped your vehicle, it’s no big deal. However, any time an accident happens, whether or not there are injuries, you deserve to get a police report.

Get Help You Can Trust

Were you on a motorcycle when the accident took place? Injuries from motorcycle accidents can quickly go from bad to worse. Tha’s why it’s always a good idea to reach out for help from a legal professional.

When you’re hiring an attorney, ask them if they have specific experience handling your type of hit and run lawsuit. For instance, do you need motorcycle accident help? If yes, hire someone who can prove they have experience winning motorcycle hit and runs.

Tips for Dealing With Insurance Companies

Now you’re ready to learn how to handle insurance companies. If you have a lawyer, ask for their advice before saying anything to your insurance company. Sometimes lawyers will speak on your behalf, which can help you avoid saying the wrong things.

If you do wind up speaking directly to an insurance company, remember to stick to the facts. Avoid adding in any theories you might have, and instead, only give details you’re certain about.

Unfortunately, insurance companies are looking to give you the smallest payout for your claim. Anything extra you add to your statements could be twisted around and used against you.

Here are a few facts about the accident to have prepared :

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  • The location you were coming from
  • Weather
  • Passengers information
  • Location driving to
  • The speed you were driving

While you should never be hostile with your insurance company, it’s also important you treat each call as business interaction. Lastly, ask insurance adjusters and other insurance officials to email you updates whenever possible.

It’s helpful to have proof of the things you’re being told. If the insurance company does anything less than legal, emails will also help you prove your case.

Never Say Sorry

Saying sorry can be a natural response whenever you feel like you’re inconveniencing someone. However, since insurance companies are looking to place the blame on you, a simple sorry could ruin your entire claim. Never admit guilt in any way, and instead let your attorney guide you on what to say.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Do you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage? Depending on the state you live in, your uninsured motorist coverages may be able to help pay for your damages. 

If it’s unclear to you how uninsured motorist coverages work in your state, call your insurance agent. Insurance agents work separately from the claims department, and they’re the ones to call when you want to review your policy. You can also take a peek at this list of state laws for uninsured motorist coverages.

What to Do If You Don’t Have Uninsured Motorist

If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may have legal recourse. Depending on your state’s laws, denying uninsured motorist coverages may require you to sign a waiver. If your insurance company can’t produce a copy of the signed waiver, you could potentially sue them.

What Other Insurance Coverages Help?

What other coverages on your insurance policy may be able to help pay for damages? Here’s a list of the other coverages that could help:

  • Personal injury protection
  • Medical payments
  • Collision

Personal injury protection or PIP coverages will help pay for the medical bills of you and your passengers. PIP can also help cover expenses such as lost income from injuries, or even child care.

Next, medical payments are additional coverage to help cover any expenses from your injuries. Finally, collision coverages will help pay for the damage to your vehicle.

Getting the Funds You Need

Depending on your policy, both your PIP and medical payments probably won’t be enough to cover all of your medical expenses. That’s why it’s always a good idea to explore starting a hit and run lawsuit.

If you even have a chance at winning your case, you should take it. Medical expenses can add up fast, and without enough money to pay the bills, you could wind up stunting your recovery.

Use Hit and Run Laws to Protect Your Rights

Now you know more about how hit and run laws operate. No matter what the circumstances were, if someone hit you or your property and fled the scene, you should speak up. Whether you decide to open a hit and run lawsuit, or you focus on working with the police to catch the culprits, you’ll be glad you said something.

You owe it to yourself to defend your rights, and we hope this article will inspire you to do just that! For more sources of inspiration, check out the rest of this site.

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