Getting in a car accident is already nerve-wracking, and when the other driver flees the scene, it only compounds your stress. If you are in an accident where the other driver left the collision, you’ll want to contact your local accident attorneys in Houston, TX. Keep reading to learn what to do if you’re involved in a hit-and-run.
The Other Driver Fled the Scene: What Do I Do Now?
Even though laws require drivers to remain at the scene of an accident, some drivers disregard these laws. The American Automobile Association states that approximately 11% of all accidents reported to police involve a driver leaving the collision site.
Although most people wouldn’t dream of fleeing from the responsibility of an accident, it’s essential to know what to do if you are unlucky enough to be struck by an irresponsible driver. If you find yourself left at the scene of an accident, follow these steps:
Try to Get Identifying Information
Following your accident, you’ll likely feel a rush of adrenaline or shock over what you’ve just experienced. While you may want to freeze or have an emotional moment, you’ll need to try to get as much information about the other driver as possible.
The best information you can get from a fleeing driver is the license plate number of their vehicle. This data gives the police something to work with to find the driver. However, the other driver may not have a tag on their car or be too far away for you to read the plate. In that case, try to at least get the vehicle’s make, model, and color.
Look for Little Details
Small details that seem inconsequential can prove valuable when it comes to finding the at-fault driver. For example, when looking at the vehicle’s make and model, notice whether the car has tinted windows. If it’s a pickup, look to see if it’s a standard cab or an extended one. Trailer hitches, bumper stickers, and parking decals are all also worth noting.
Once the driver is out of sight and you can’t observe them any longer, write down these details as soon as possible. The longer you go before writing them down, the more likely you are to become confused and forget or misremember something.
Call the Police
The sooner you call the police, the sooner they can begin looking for the individual that hit you. Just like you feel rattled after the accident, the at-fault driver likely does, too. That means they may pull over on the side of the road to collect themselves. Calling the police immediately increases the chance that the person who hits you could be found quickly.
However, even if you know the at-fault driver is long gone, you’ll still want to call the police and file a police report. When you talk to the responding officer, ensure you tell them every detail you remember about the accident, even if it feels inconsequential. They may be able to find the driver later, based on your observations. Finally, you’ll want to have a police report for when you file a claim for damages with your insurance company.
Focus on Remembering
After the accident, you’ll want to try to remember everything that happened, down to the smallest detail. Since your memory will fade as time passes, write down what happened as soon as possible; that way, you have a record while the incident is fresh in your mind.
You’ll want to note the direction you were driving, what caused the accident, where the accident occurred, and which way the at-fault party went when they left the accident. If there were no witnesses present, and the police could not find security footage of the event, your statement will be the only thing you have to support your claim of how the events unfolded.
Don’t Chase the Other Driver
Car chases should be left for action movies, so don’t pursue the other driver, even if you’re sure you can catch them. Following the other driver puts you and others on the road at risk. You cannot know if the other driver is armed, which could result in a dangerous altercation. Additionally, following the other driver could cause them to drive more recklessly and get into another, more severe accident.
Let the police worry about finding the at-fault party and focus instead on remembering all the details from the accident and ensuring you are uninjured. Remember that if you pursue the other driver, get in an accident, or contribute to a violent situation, you will be held responsible, even if they hit you first.
Talk to Potential Witnesses
Even if you missed collecting information in the chaotic moments following the accident, that doesn’t mean witnesses did. Outside observers can offer you the insight you don’t have, either because it wasn’t visible to you or because you were too stressed to notice. If witnesses are present, speak with them as soon as possible and ask for their contact information.
Depending on who the witnesses are, you may want to ask if they have security cameras that captured the collision. Quite a few hit-and-run drivers have been foiled because they were caught on home security cameras and the police were able to collect the plate number or other identifying information from the video. Finally, when the police come to the scene, let them know if there are any witnesses.
Talk to Houston, TX Accident Attorneys Immediately
If you have insurance, you may feel you do not need to contact a lawyer following your hit and run. Unfortunately, deciding not to hire a lawyer could negatively impact you if your insurance company decides to try to pin the blame on you for the accident or claims that the damage you received was present before the accident.
Anytime you are involved in a collision, you should contact an attorney. Even accidents that seem like they should be straightforward can quickly become complicated once the process of filing a claim begins. Your lawyer will be able to help you file your claim and prove what damage was done to your vehicle from the incident.
If you suffered a bodily injury during the collision, a lawyer could help you collect the documentation necessary to receive reimbursement for your medical bills. In addition, if your injuries take a long time to recover from or affect the rest of your life, an attorney will offer you the best chance of receiving fair compensation for your projected medical care costs.
Accident attorneys in Houston, TX, will also handle your claim while you recover. Since dealing with the insurance company can be time-consuming and aggravating, working with a lawyer ensures you have someone to look out for your interests while you are healing, preventing you from using up your energy dealing with the fallout from your collision.
If the at-fault driver is identified, you’ll want a lawyer on your side to help you pursue compensation for any damages done to you or your vehicle. Filing a personal injury claim against the driver may be possible, and your attorney can guide you through that process and help you seek the justice you deserve for the wrong committed against you.
Trusted Accident Attorneys in Houston, TX
When you’ve been in a hit-and-run, you need attorneys you can count on to look out for your interests. Feeling overwhelmed and uncertain after a collision is normal, but you don’t have to navigate the aftermath alone.
If you are a hit-and-run victim, our team can help. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC today, and let us fight for your rights.