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The do's and don'ts of hit-and-runs

No matter what, being involved in a motor vehicle accident is no fun. Regardless of who is at fault, there is the stress and tedium of dealing with all the details in the aftermath, even when no one is seriously injured. You pull over to the shoulder, assess the damage, exchange insurance information and perhaps even call the police.

What happens, though, if you're the victim of a hit and run accident? How much does this change the way you react? What should you do?

What to do after a hit-and-run accident

If you suffered injuries, the first thing you will want to do is call 911 for an ambulance. Otherwise, when you are involved in an automobile crash and the other driver flees the scene, you will want to consider doing the following:

  • If possible, get the license plate number of the other vehicle.
  • Call the police to report the incident.
  • Fill out an official accident report with the police, and include witness statements if you are able.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company.

If, for whatever reason, the police are not immediately available, you may want to take photographs of the scene of the accident, the damage to your car and any other relevant details. If there were witnesses to the incident, see whether they would be willing to give written statements, and try to get their names and contact information.

While the accident is fresh in your mind, write it down in detail, and even include your calls to the police. This may come in handy later when you attempt to get compensation, even if authorities are unable to apprehend the other driver.

What NOT to do after a hit-and-run accident

Although you are likely upset and shaken after an accident, and may tempted to follow the other driver, experts advise refraining from doing so, and recommend that you:

  • Do not leave the scene of the accident.
  • Do not follow and confront the other driver.
  • Try not to block traffic or stand in the travel lane while waiting for police to arrive.

While you do not want to leave the crash site, you will want to consider moving somewhere safe nearby while you wait for authorities to get there.

Why other drivers "run"

Usually, people who caused an accident flee the scene for one of two reasons: either they do not have a license or they do not have insurance. Even though you know how important it is to keep your automobile insurance in order, not all drivers are as responsible and may fear the legal repercussions or out-of-pocket expenses if authorities find out they do not have insurance or if you decide to pursue legal action against them.

What do I do now?

You may pursue several options if you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Authorities will investigate the accident and help attempt to bring the responsible party to justice. Additionally, whether police apprehend the responsible party, your insurance policy most likely includes something called "uninsured motorist coverage," which protects you in cases where the driver who caused the accident does not have insurance or isn't properly covered. There are resources available to help you with filing these types of claims, too.

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