Being on the receiving end of a hit-and-run can be extremely scary, particularly if you receive an injury or a large amount of damage to your car. Leaving the scene of an accident can carry up to a five year prison sentence in Virginia, so it is a very serious crime. If you have been involved in a hit-and-run, you should do everything possible to help police identify the perpetrator. Here are the steps you should take after the accident occurs.
1. Try to Remember Important Information about the Car
With the right information about the car, the police will have an easier time figuring out who committed the crime. While the license plate number is obviously the most accurate way to identify a car, small details such as the make, model, and color of the car can also help. You should also take note of the exact time and place of the crime.
It is a good idea to keep a notepad in your car so that you can quickly jot down all of the details you remember before you forget them. Eyewitness testimony can be very unreliable, so writing it down right away is much safer than trusting yourself to remember the details.
2. Interview Any Witnesses at the Scene
Proving that an incident happened is much easier if you have witnesses to corroborate your story. Approach people around the scene of the accident and ask if they saw what happened. If they did, ask them to wait around until the police arrive. If they remember any details about the car that you did not notice, write them down. If they remember something (such as the make or model) differently than you, write both down so that the police can investigate both possibilities.
3. Call the Police
Once you have asked the witnesses to stick around, you should contact the police. The police will come gather testimony from you and the witnesses and will try to find the car that committed the crime.
4. Take Pictures of the Damage
If the perpetrator is found, you will have to go to court to prove what damage he or she did to your car or your body. By taking detailed pictures of any damage or injuries, you will have concrete documentation of what the other driver caused.
5. Contact Your Car Insurance Company
In the case of a hit-and-run case, your insurance company should cover the damage under the uninsured motorist clause. Once you have settled everything at the crime scene and communicated with the police, you should contact your car insurance company about the accident.
6. Hire a Lawyer
If the police catch the person who committed the hit-and-run, you may have to go to court to prove that the perpetrator committed the crime. A lawyer who specializes in auto accidents, like one at Sarkisian & Fleming, can help you to prepare and win your case.
Share all of the information you took down at the crime scene with your lawyer, as well as the pictures you took of the damage and injuries. You should also share any doctor's bills you incurred as a result of the accident. Your lawyer can sort through all of this information and help formulate a winning strategy for the court case.
Your first instinct after a hit-and-run might be to panic, but that only wastes precious time. After you have been hit by a fleeing driver, you should immediately start gathering information about the circumstances of the accident. The faster you collect your head and gather information and witnesses, the more likely it is that you will be able to prove exactly what happened and receive just compensation.