What Do I Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident?

December 9, 2023 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
What Do I Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident?

A hit-and-run accident can be serious and traumatic. Crashes are bad enough, but watching the careless driver flee the scene can add significantly more trauma to the incident.

Not only are you dealing with physical injuries, but you also must address the legal details of a car accident without knowing the at-fault party. However, remember that even though you do not yet know the driver's identity, you may still have a pathway to financial compensation.

A settlement is not automatic when you have suffered an injury in a hit-and-run accident, and you must still go through the same legal process before receiving a check. No matter which insurance company you deal with, you can always expect similar tactics.

An experienced Texas car accident lawyer can fight for your interests after a severe hit-and-run. You must make the call as soon as possible after the accident to get complete protection of your legal rights.

Hit-and-Run Car Accidents Are Increasing

What Do I Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident

Hit-and-run car accidents reached their lowest point in the late 2000s, in line with an overall drop in crashes. However, accidents have spiked since then, rising 7.2 percent each year. Recently, the accident figures have gotten far worse, as American society's respect for traffic laws is declining.

Roughly 7 percent of car accident fatalities occur in hit-and-run accidents, and recently, there were around 2,500 fatalities in these types of crashes.

Each state is reporting that hit-and-run accidents are nearing record highs, and the result is that accident victims may have a more challenging time getting all the compensation that they deserve. Traffic enforcement surges have done little to stem the tide of these accidents.

Drivers are legally obligated to stop at the scene of a car accident. Motorists must exchange contact and insurance information with each other so they can report the incident to their insurance company.

The requirement to stop and remain at the scene is not just limited to when there are physical injuries; the driver must stop anytime if there is even a slight amount of property damage.

When drivers fail to stop, they can face serious consequences. However, many injured accident victims also face consequences, as seeking compensation becomes a more challenging process.

Why Some Drivers May Not Stop After a Hit-and-Run Accident

Some drivers may not stop at the scene of the accident, and reasons for fleeing a hit-and-run accident include:

  • The driver does not have any car insurance
  • Motorists panic and act irrationally after a crash
  • There may be an outstanding warrant for the driver's arrest
  • The driver may be an undocumented immigrant, and they fear deportation
  • The motorist is intoxicated, and they do not want law enforcement officials to arrest them

Regardless of the reason for not stopping, it is illegal to flee, and a driver can be sentenced to significant jail time if they leave the scene of an accident with injuries. Police will launch an investigation to try to apprehend the driver.

You Can Still Receive Payment After a Hit-and-Run Accident

In the meantime, you have your own legal considerations as the victim of a hit-and-run crash. Your primary interest is getting the compensation you need for your damages.

Usually, you can file a claim against the driver responsible for the car insurance policy, but this is only possible when you know the driver's identity or insurance information.

Nevertheless, there are a series of steps that you need to follow to pursue financial compensation in your case.

Call the Police to Get an Accident Report

Call the Police to Get an Accident Report

The critical requirement is that you report the accident to law enforcement immediately. You will need a police officer to come to the accident scene to write a report, and they will be the ones who document the fact that the other driver failed to stop.

When you file an insurance claim, you must have the accident report to prove you were a hit-and-run victim. The police officer may not reach any conclusion about the crash, but their information is crucial nonetheless.

You must file a timely car accident report because if you wait too long, the police may not include the necessary details, and the insurance company may question your conclusion.

The police should write the report from the scene because you will need proof of when and where the accident happened.

While the police must write a report immediately, it may be difficult for you to do anything at the accident scene to document what happened.

If you file a personal injury claim, you are likely dealing with other things during the crash. Your actual responsibilities begin in the days after the crash. The legal process does not wait for anyone; you must focus on details, even if hurt.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company, But Be Careful

The first thing you must do afterward is contact your insurance company to report the accident.

Because your uninsured motorist coverage will pay for your damages, you must view your insurance company as an adversary and be careful what you say because it can deny or underpay your claim, just like the other driver's carrier. Nonetheless, you absolutely must report the accident to your insurance company.

The insurance company may ask you questions about the crash, and you should be very careful about what you say and do not volunteer any extraneous information about the accident.

You must still prove that the other driver was to blame because the fact that they did not stop at the scene is not necessarily proof of their negligence. You should also not try to minimize your injuries when the insurance company asks about your health.

Chances are it is not inquiring to express care - it is asking because it wants you to downplay your injuries. It will help if you wait to give all the details until you hire a lawyer to speak on your behalf or be present when the insurance company asks you questions.

Get Medical Help for Your Injuries

You should seek medical help after a hit-and-run car accident. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may have been treated at the scene or taken to a hospital.

If you received immediate treatment, you should follow all recommendations, fill prescriptions promptly, and attend all therapy appointments. The insurance company is watching you to see what you do for yourself, so you must remain vigilant about your medical care.

If you did not receive immediate treatment, you should still see a doctor after the accident. Some injuries take time to show symptoms, and you may be in physical pain when the adrenaline from the accident wanes.

Many head and neck injuries may not be apparent at the time of the accident. Instead, you may begin to hurt days or weeks after the accident.

Before you can file an insurance claim, you need to know the full extent of your injuries and your prognosis for the future. The insurance company must have documentation in the form of your medical records to make you a settlement offer.

There is only so much you can or should do after you have suffered an injury in a car accident, and you should not deal with the details of the legal process. Further, you cannot effectively be your own advocate when you are up against an insurance company whose main aim is to underpay your claim.

Given the issues involved in a hit-and-run crash, you should hire a lawyer immediately who will protect your legal rights when the insurance company tries to take them from you.

An Attorney Can Try to Locate the Driver

In the short term, your attorney will conduct their own investigation to locate the responsible driver.

While police may also attempt to track down the driver, your lawyer is highly motivated to do what they can and will:

  • Speak to witnesses who may have seen the car in the area
  • Ask others who may have been in the area if they saw anything
  • Check with repair shops in the area if they have taken in a car meeting the description of the vehicle involved
  • Research any potential license plate matches (in whole or in part) with the Department of Motor Vehicles)
  • Review surveillance, dashcam, or traffic camera footage

Your Attorney Will Also Collect Evidence About the Accident

You must still present proof that the other driver was to blame for the crash, even if the insurance company cannot speak directly to them. Always remember the ability of insurance companies to deny a claim if it can save them money and may skirt their obligation to act in good faith.

Your lawyer will investigate the crash and compile the evidence showing that the other driver was to blame, even if the authorities cannot locate them.

Your Attorney Will Estimate Your Damages and Fight for Full Compensation

You will need to file a claim with your insurance company with the understanding that customer loyalty does not mean anything. Insurance companies do not care about fully compensating you for your damages; in their view, the only loyalty that matters is the one that keeps you paying monthly premiums.

Your insurance company knows the value of your claim, and when you hire a car accident lawyer, you will have the same knowledge. Your attorney will review your situation to determine the number you should ask for when you file a claim or lawsuit.

Then, your lawyer will negotiate compensation on your behalf. Your insurance company will make you low settlement offers to make your case go away for as little money as possible.

Still, your car accident lawyer will advise you to reject offers that do not pay you the total value of your claim. If necessary, your attorney can even file a lawsuit against your insurance company if they have wrongfully denied your claim or are refusing to pay you fully.

Continue to Work with Law Enforcement to Find the Responsible Driver

Just because the driver did not stop does not mean someone won't find them someday. Since a hit-and-run accident is a criminal matter, police will work hard to track down the driver so they can press charges. Police may have additional questions in the following days to learn information to help them find the driver.

If they find the driver who fled the scene, not only will you know that you received justice, but you will also get an additional insurance policy against which to file a claim. The responsible driver's insurance policy will become the primary payer of your damages.

While finding the driver and holding them accountable can be a relief, navigating an at-fault insurance claim after a car accident can be complex and daunting. Engaging the services of a car accident lawyer is essential to ensure your rights are protected and maximize your chances of fair compensation.

An experienced attorney understands the intricacies of the claim process, from gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies. They can help determine liability, assess damages, and advocate on your behalf, especially if the at-fault party disputes the claim.

With a lawyer by your side, you gain a knowledgeable advocate who can handle legal complexities, allowing you to focus on your recovery. Don't face the challenges of an at-fault insurance claim alone – enlist the experience of a car accident lawyer to secure the compensation you deserve.

Do Not Wait to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

Hiring a car accident lawyer costs you nothing upfront, and you will not have to pay a retainer or hourly bills during the case. You will only pay your lawyer if and when you win your claim, and you will not face a hefty bill for your lawyer's services if you are unsuccessful.

Seek your free case evaluation with a trusted Texas personal injury attorney . Time is of the essence. Act now to begin protecting your legal rights and future.