The sudden collision and the shock of a driver fleeing the scene can leave you feeling vulnerable and uncertain about what to do next. A hit and run accident may also have resulted in significant injuries and financial losses that add difficulty to your life.
Having the correct knowledge and taking the appropriate steps can significantly improve your chances of recovering compensation for the harm you suffered and regaining control over your life. This article delves into the essential actions to take after a hit and run and the invaluable role a hit and run accident lawyer plays in securing compensation for your losses.
Hit and Run Accidents and Their Aftermath
A hit and run accident occurs when one vehicle collides with another, but instead of stopping to address the aftermath as the law requires, the at-fault driver departs the scene, preventing you from learning the information you need to hold them accountable. These accidents can span a spectrum of severity, ranging from low-speed collisions in parking lots to more substantial, higher-speed crashes on the open road.
But no matter the speed or setting of a hit and run accident, its aftermath can have a wide-reaching and negative effect on numerous aspects of your life. Physical injuries such as head or spinal trauma, fractured bones, contusions, and internal organ damage can disrupt your daily life and overall well-being. The repercussions don’t end there, as the psychological aftermath can be equally profound. Hit and run accident victims like you frequently grapple with heightened stress, anxiety, and, in some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder.
The combined physical and emotional toll of a hit and run can also have serious financial consequences for you and your family. Your injuries and trauma may require extensive medical treatments that saddle you with crushing debt. They may also keep you out of work temporarily or permanently, disrupting the income and benefits you rely on to pay your bills and plan for the future. There’s also the damage to your vehicle, which may require costly repairs or a complete replacement, adding additional cost strain to an already challenging situation.
Immediate Steps to Take After a Hit and Run
After a hit and run accident, taking the two specific actions below can protect your rights.
Seek Medical Attention
Prioritize your physical and emotional health first. Even if you think you escaped the hit and run relatively unscathed, seek prompt medical evaluation from a qualified healthcare provider. Certain injuries may not show symptoms immediately but could worsen without care. And your legal rights to compensation may depend on being able to prove, using medical records, the injuries you suffered and the reasonable steps you took to heal from them.
Contact Law Enforcement
You have a legal obligation to inform the police about the hit and run accident. Fulfilling that duty also protects your rights to compensation. The police have numerous tools available to seize evidence, track down the hit and run driver, and hold them accountable. But their efforts can’t begin until you’ve told them what happened.
The Next Steps To Protect Your Rights to Compensation
As the victim of a motor vehicle accident, you have the legal right to receive compensation for your losses from at-fault parties and insurance companies.
Although every crash differs, accident victims can typically demand payment for their:
- Medical costs and other accident-related expenses.
- Lost income, job benefits, and future earning opportunities.
- Physical pain.
- Emotional distress.
- Diminished quality of life.
- Scarring, disfigurement, and loss of bodily function.
These damages can be substantial, and your right to receive money for them doesn’t disappear simply because you suffered injuries in a hit and run crash. It may be possible to identify and hold the hit and run driver accountable. Even if you are unable to identify the driver, you may have multiple alternative options for pursuing monetary damages.
You need to protect those rights and options to take advantage of them. After addressing the two pressing matters of seeking medical care and notifying the police, take the following steps to safeguard your ability to seek compensation for your losses.
Notify Your Auto Insurance Company
Your auto insurance may play a pivotal role in compensating you for the losses you suffered in a hit and run accident.
Two common types of auto coverage can directly pay for your damages if your auto policy includes them:
- Uninsured/underinsured (UI) motorist coverage pays for the monetary damages you suffer if you can’t identify the hit and run driver or that driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your losses. UI coverage takes care of the hit and run driver’s liability to you if the driver can’t.
- Collision coverage, if you carry it, pays for the repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle, regardless of fault for the accident.
Payment under these auto insurance coverages is neither automatic nor guaranteed. Most auto insurers require you to report any accident to them promptly—particularly a hit and run accident—as a condition of being able to file a claim. Any delay in informing your auto insurer about what happened could put your rights to coverage at risk or lead to your insurer questioning the validity of your claim.
Remember, even your auto insurer will look for reasons to deny you the compensation you deserve. Provide only factual information only when communicating with your insurance company, and avoid any discussion or questions about your views on fault or liability. Those are complicated issues best left to an experienced accident injury lawyer to handle with the insurer on your behalf.
Hire a Car Accident Injury Lawyer
After dealing with your medical care and notifying the police, hire an experienced car accident injury lawyer in Macon as soon as possible. Their job is to handle every aspect of obtaining compensation for your losses in a hit and run. While the lawyer goes to work for you, you can focus your time and energy on healing from your trauma.
What can a lawyer do for you? In a word, everything—everything having to do with protecting your rights and seeking compensation, that is.
Depending on the circumstances of the hit and run accident and your personal needs and priorities, a lawyer can:
- Investigate the hit and run to uncover evidence of the driver’s fault and identity details that law enforcement may have overlooked.
- Coordinate with law enforcement in their investigation to hear your input and ensure that you benefit from their findings.
- Evaluate the losses you’ve suffered to identify every dollar of compensation you deserve.
- Answer your questions and explain your options.
- Handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf.
- Submit well-documented, persuasive insurance claims to your auto insurance carrier seeking compensation under your collision, UI, or other coverage.
- Prepare and file a lawsuit or insurance claim against the hit and run driver or other liable parties.
- Negotiate claim settlements and advise you on whether to accept or reject settlement offers.
- Advocate for you in court by going to trial to prove your claim.
- Enforce the terms of any settlement, judgment, or jury award in your favor to ensure you receive every dollar owed.
The sooner you hire a hit and run accident lawyer to handle your hit and run accident claim, the better. Engaging a lawyer promptly allows them to secure and document crucial evidence before it becomes compromised or unavailable. It also ensures you meet critical legal deadlines in your case that, if you miss, could impair your rights. And it can alleviate the stress and anxiety you may feel about the uncertain aftermath of the hit and run.
Don’t worry. It’s affordable to find and hire a lawyer for your hit and run case. Car accident injury lawyers offer free consultations to crash victims. In a risk-free meeting with a knowledgeable legal professional, you can learn about your rights and options. There is no charge for that session, even if you decide not to proceed with legal action.
Lawyers for hit and run victims also represent their clients on contingency. That means their fee is a percentage of the money they secure on your behalf. They don’t charge upfront or by the hour for their services. You only pay them if they deliver results.
Avoid Making These Common Mistakes After a Hit and Run
As you navigate the aftermath of a hit and run accident, be aware of these common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Rushing to Settle With Your or Someone Else’s Insurer
It can be tempting to accept an early settlement offer you receive from your auto insurance company or someone else’s liability insurer. But exercising extreme caution is the safer route to take. You will often receive quick, lowball settlement offers from insurance companies that hope you’ll take them before you’ve spoken with a lawyer and learned the real value of your claim.
Saying yes to what seems like quick, easy money can amount to forfeiting your right to receive what you deserve. Leave it to a skilled lawyer to negotiate with an insurer on your behalf. In most cases, an attorney can get you far more than an insurer initially offered.
Time is of the essence after a hit and run accident. Every day that passes risks making it harder to identify the driver and obtain the compensation you deserve. Act quickly to protect your rights and keep the greatest number of options open to you and your lawyer.
Giving Up Hope
Many victims of hit and run accidents assume that they’ll never receive compensation because the driver lacks sufficient insurance or there are difficulties identifying them. But they shouldn’t give up hope. Taking prompt actions such as the ones above can increase their chances of obtaining justice and payment for their losses.
A skilled car accident injury attorney can review the circumstances and identify potential avenues for securing monetary damages. In addition to finding and holding the driver accountable and seeking payment under auto insurance coverage, a hit and run victim may also have the right to receive compensation from others whose misconduct led to the crash. Another (identified) motorist, for example, could share liability for the hit and run.
A government agency could also be at fault for creating unreasonably hazardous road conditions that contributed to causing the accident. Every situation differs, and you never know who might owe you payment for your losses until an experienced attorney has reviewed your case.
Contact an Experienced Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Today
Being the victim of a hit and run accident can throw your life into turmoil while burdening you with severe injuries and devastating financial losses. But it doesn’t mean you have no alternatives for obtaining compensation. An experienced accident injury lawyer can explore your options and handle your compensation claim.
Don’t despair. If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries in a hit and run accident, take heart in the knowledge that you may have multiple avenues for pursuing the monetary damages you deserve. Contact an experienced lawyer today for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.