Being injured in a car accident is often a traumatic experience. It can be especially challenging when you or a loved one is the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Many people who are hurt in hit-and-run accidents do not know where to turn or what to do to find the driver or to recover compensation for medical bills and other damages. Following a crash with a hit-and-run driver, it is vital to act fast to protect your health and finances.
Hit-and-Run Accidents Are on the Rise
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the number of hit-and-run crashes in the United States is rising at an alarming pace. In 2016, there were a total of 1,980 fatal hit-and-run accidents, which resulted in 2,049 deaths. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Pennsylvania. If a hit-and-run driver seriously injures or kills someone, it can be charged as a felony.
Steps to Take Following an Accident
If you are involved in a crash with someone who leaves the scene of the accident, call 911 immediately. The sooner you can give police a description of the vehicle, driver, and license plate (if possible), the better. Ask any witnesses for their contact information and write down everything you remember about how the accident occurred. Take photos of the scene, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries. Some injuries do not show symptoms right away, so it is best to get checked-out at the ER or physician’s office.
Taking these steps helps preserve valuable evidence that can lead to finding the negligent driver and provides proof of the accident and your injuries to your insurance company.
How to Recover Compensation When a Driver Cannot Be Found
Even if the hit-and-run driver is not found, your own auto insurance company may provide compensation through your PIP (personal injury protection) and uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Adding adequate amounts of this coverage to your car insurance policy is well worth the cost to protect yourself in the event of an accident. Your medical insurance may also cover all or some of your medical expenses.
When you call your insurance company, it is important to keep in mind that it is not looking-out for your best interests. Whether you are seeking coverage from your own policy or the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, most insurance companies try to pay minimal settlement amounts, and they may deny your claim. This is just one reason why contacting a car accident attorney is a good idea if you have been the victim of a hit and run.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney
Dealing with insurance adjusters can be frustrating, especially when you are hurt and trying to heal. An auto accident attorney can handle all communications with your insurance company and negotiate aggressively to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation to which you may be entitled. Your accident lawyer will also ensure that all relevant evidence is collected and presented to support your claim.
Traffic camera footage, eyewitness accounts, vehicle and driver descriptions, and license plate numbers can help law enforcement find a hit-and-run driver. If police hit a dead end, your attorney may enlist the help of private investigators to track-down the negligent motorist.
If the hit-and-run driver is found, you may bring a lawsuit against him or her to recover compensation for your medical expenses, past and future loss of income, property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages. If the driver was intoxicated or acting in a reckless manner, you may be entitled to punitive damages as well. The best personal injury lawyers pursue all possible sources of compensation to help you get the care you need and to protect your financial future.