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Millions of Americans are involved in car accidents every year. Many people involved in these accidents are victims of other drivers on the road and did not cause the accident. A lot of these accidents are hit-and-runs, where another motorist hits your car (or sometimes hits you) and flees the scene. This typically happens in parking lots but can happen anywhere. If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, it’s very important that you go through certain steps in order to handle this situation. Here are some things you can do if you end up a victim of this sort of incident.
Call the Police Immediately
A hit-and-run is almost always an accident, but the person who causes it panics and flees the scene. You want to call the police here before you do anything else. Of course, the police are going to ask you for a lot of information that you may not be aware of. It’s very likely that you never saw the car or the driver, and that you were inside a store or some other location when it happened. Even still, be very patient with the police and allow them to file a report. If you were hit and injured, obviously call 911 for immediate attention and deal with the police later.
Take Pictures and File an Accident Report
You also want to take a lot of pictures, take some notes, and really catalog what happened. You’re going to need all the information you can possibly get here. You were the victim of an incident here, and so you do not want to have to pay anything out of pocket. Use this information to file a formal accident report. Every state has a database where you can go look up and check in on your accident report. If you’re in Illinois, for instance, you can search for “Cook County car accident reports” in order to file or locate a report.
Locate Possible Witnesses
When a hit-and-run happens, you might be a little frantic and thus it may take you a while to really process what’s going on. You need to calm down so that you can focus. Look for witnesses; try to locate anyone who may have seen anything. Ask people nearby if they saw the type of vehicle it was, or got a license plate or at least a partial. If the incident happened in a parking lot of a store, you can also ask if they have security cameras operating. The police will usually do this, but it doesn’t hurt that you also ask if the area was covered. It’s important to try to find witnesses who may have seen what happened.
Contact Your Insurance
Another one of the first things you have to do after a hit-and-run is to contact your insurance. Although this isn’t like an accident where the person sticks around and you exchange insurance information, you still want to contact your insurance to get the ball rolling on a claim. You do not want to be left on the hook for paying for an incident you did not cause. Insurance works a little bit differently for a hit-and-run, so the process may take longer. Contact your insurance as soon as possible to start this process.
Seek Out Proper Legal Advice
Depending on the sort of damage caused by the incident, you may want a lawyer in your corner. This is especially true if the perpetrator is caught and they do not have insurance (which may be the reason they fled). It’s going to be very complicated when dealing only with your insurance, and you may end up having to sue the individual who caused the accident on a personal level. You don’t have to throw a bunch of money down to retain a lawyer here, but you do want to contact one and discuss your options.
Unfortunately, a hit-and-run accident is an all too common occurrence. The good news is that it’s a fairly simple process to handle once it happens. You just have to go through certain steps in order to take care of it. If you are the victim, remain calm and go through the suggestions in this article.