You have just been in a car accident and the other driver fled the scene. You think about chasing them, but your car isn’t going anywhere. This scenario is played out on American roads every day. What do you do now?
Check on Passengers and the Car
The first thing you want to do is make sure everyone is okay and that your vehicle is not in danger of catching fire or sinking into a lake or something terrible like that. If so, deal with that first. If no one is in immediate danger you want to call the police and report what has just happened. You also want to call your insurance company.
Write Down the Details
The next step is to take lots of pictures and write down all the details you can remember. If you got a look at the other vehicle, then record all you can about it. Sometimes the other driver’s car has been similarly damaged and doesn’t make it far down the road, before the driver tries to hide their vehicle somewhere nearby. A good description can help police locate the other damaged vehicle. Pictures are important for your records to give to your insurance company or lawyer. Take pictures of your vehicle, of damaged property around your vehicle, and of any cuts scrapes or bruises on yourself. All this will help you prove the severity of the accident and bodily injury to yourself. You may also need to call a tow truck at this point.
Start Getting Medical Help
Even minor car accidents can cause lasting whiplash. Get an x-ray and visit a chiropractor for treatment of a car accident injury. Since a lot of the healing occurs in the initial weeks and months of whiplash, you don’t want to wait and seek out medical care when a chiropractor could have sped up the healing process from the beginning.
File a Claim
You then want to file a claim with your insurance company if you don’t plan to get a lawyer. Understand that insurance companies want to pay as little as possible. You may need to get a lawyer or at least find a good auto body repair shop that will thoroughly inspect your vehicle for damage, as they will invariably find damage that the insurance adjuster will not. This is why you may not want to go with the auto body shop that your insurance adjuster recommends and ask a friend or your mechanic who to take your car to. You have the right to use any auto body shop you choose, so choose wisely.
Call a Lawyer
If you suffered any bodily damage (you got hurt), then a lawyer is probably your best option. Alternatively, if you know a good chiropractor, you can see if your insurance company will pay for your treatment. If you have PIP, then you are covered, if not then it may be difficult to get your medical bills covered, even though the insurance company may tell you they will reimburse you, you will probably only get partial reimbursement. This is also true if you are hospitalized after your accident. In these cases a lawyer may be your best bet for recovering all costs incurred by your hit and run accident.
How about the passengers? While they usually don’t have to worry about property damage, they can often suffer bodily injury. In this case PIP can once again come to the rescue. Not only are they covered by your PIP, but they are also covered by their own. This will normally cover all incurred medical bills without any hassle.
As you can see, there a several steps you need to take to make sure you and your passengers are fully covered after a hit accident.