California law requires drivers to stop after being involved in an auto accident. Unfortunately, not all drivers obey the law. It's routine to see drivers speed or engage in distracted behaviors, such as texting, eating, and more. Because there's a plethora of distractions competing for our attention at all times, we take our focus off the road. Even when paying attention to the cars around us, it's still possible to be surprised. For these and a variety of other reasons, hit and run accidents occur. So, it's very important to know what to do after a hit and run (as well as what not to do.)
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
If you are a victim of a hit and run accident, you'll probably experience anger, frustration, surprise, anxiety, confusion, and the list goes on and on. You might tempt you to follow the at-fault hit and run driver, but this will do more harm than good. The reasons are simple -- you'll also be leaving the scene and doing so causes two things to happen.
Some traffic incidents cause heart pounding reactions, like stolen cars, car crashes, and near-misses. Unsurprisingly, hit-and-runs can be one of the most upsetting. When a driver hits a pedestrian, property or another car, or causes a collision, and then either flees the scene or doesn't provide truthful information, it's a hit-and-run. In these scenarios, information is your best asset. Knowing what to do ahead of time might even help you track down the culprit. --MSN.com
If you pursue the other driver, you won't be able to immediately question any witnesses. You also won't get the opportunity to establish credibility with responding law enforcement. After all, they will wonder why you too left the scene. This dovetails with another thing you shouldn't do after a hit and run accident, which is to wait to call the police or sheriff's department. You'll need an official report for your claim then and there. Like being in any other accident, here's what you should do after a hit and run accident:
- Get the other driver's license plate. If it is possible, note the other driver's license plate. Even a partial, along with a description or make and model and/or color, will be helpful. If you do not see the license plate, ask witnesses on the scene. Also, take a look around to see if any security or intersection cameras are present as these might have captured the incident or other vehicle.
- Phone local law enforcement immediately. Call local law enforcement and wait at the scene to get an accident report. Do not admit any fault and make no statements about your own condition. For instance, do not tell the police or anyone else you feel fine, have no injuries, or are somewhat at-fault.
- Speak with any eye witnesses on the scene. You should also speak with anyone who witnessed the hit and run accident. Take detailed notes and get their full names, along with their contact information. These individuals should also speak with any law enforcement on the scene.
- Document everything as soon as possible. The best time to document your experience is right after the accident, while everything is still fresh in your mind. Take plenty of pictures and record detailed notes of all you remember so you'll have ample documentation.
- Seek medical treatment right after the accident. Even if you don't feel injured or hurt, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible following the accident. Do not wait even one day -- you need to be examined right away. After all, you could be injured and not know about it for days later.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a hit and run accident, you need to consult an experienced personal injury attorney right away to learn about your legal rights. Time is not on your side and you might be entitled to compensation.