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What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident

Getting into a serious car accident caused by a negligent driver is incredibly overwhelming and can leave a personal injury victim in a state of shock. Add to that equation a negligent driver who flees the scene after causing the accident and the fear and uncertainty rise to a whole new level.

A personal injury victim injured in a hit-and-run accident may wonder how to be sure they themselves are not held responsible for the accident. Even if the driver that fled the scene is determined to be at fault, a personal injury victim may question if and how they can receive compensation for the damages suffered as a result of the accident if the negligent driver is never identified.

Rest assured, if a hit-and-run personal injury victim has their own auto insurance, they can pursue financial compensation from their own insurance carrier as if they were making a claim against the negligent driver themselves. This kind of claim is called an Uninsured Motorist Claim.

Hit-and-Run and Uninsured Motorist Claims

In Maryland and Virginia, if you have Liability insurance coverage on your vehicle then you will almost always also have Uninsured Motorist coverage (often referred to as “UM coverage”). In most cases, the amount of UM coverage that you carry is equal to the amount of Liability coverage you carry. So if you have Maryland’s minimum Liability coverage of $30,000 per person, then your UM benefits are likely up to $30,000 as well.

UM coverage kicks in if you have been injured in an accident – as a driver, passenger or pedestrian – that was caused by an uninsured motorist. In Maryland and Virginia, insurance contracts and policies consider a vehicle that flees the scene after causing an accident (also referred to as a “phantom vehicle”) an uninsured motorist.

A victim’s insurance carrier cannot punish them or raise their rates for making a valid claim after a hit-and-run accident, but there are steps that should be taken in the aftermath of the accident to protect their rights to the fullest extent possible.

Always call the Police

Involving the police after an auto accident is always the best practice, but it is even more important when the driver who caused the accident leaves the scene. If you are able to quickly inform law enforcement of where you are, what the at-fault vehicle looks like and the direction the fleeing driver took off in, the higher the chances are that law enforcement will be able to catch up to and stop them. (Don’t worry, your right to recovery won’t depend on whether law enforcement is able to identify the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident, but it’s always worth a shot.)

Even if the at-fault driver is never identified, it is important to have a record of police involvement and the opportunity for investigation at the scene as it will provide support and validation to your story when you open a claim with your insurer. Oftentimes, an insurance company that receives a claim involving a hit-and-run driver will not even entertain the claim without a record that the police were called.

Witness Information

Gathering the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses and good Samaritans who stop to assist you after a hit-and-run accident will be extremely beneficial during your personal injury claims process.

Eye-witnesses to the accident will be able to corroborate your story to the insurer about how and where the accident happened, ensuring that you are not held responsible for another’s negligence and that you have an opportunity to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Take Photos

Take as many photos as you can (if you are in a physical state that safely allows you to do so). Take photos of all of the damage sustained to your vehicle and to any fixtures or property damaged as a result of the accident. Take photos of any tire or skid marks from your vehicle or the fleeing vehicle. Take photos of any remanence left at the scene from the fleeing vehicle.

Take a picture of anything and everything that will help law enforcement (and your claims adjuster down the road) paint a clear picture of exactly what happened and what you went through.

Seek medical treatment for your injuries

Your health and safety are always number one – getting prompt medical attention is important for your health and also for your case. Even if your injuries feel relatively minor at the time of the accident, it is important that you get checked out by a medical professional who can evaluate you and recommend a course of treatment. Adrenaline is through the roof after a serious accident and it can do a great job at masking pain and injury symptoms.

Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Krum, Gergely & Oates, LLC

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a hit-and-run driver, you are entitled to compensation for those injuries and you are not alone. The personal injury attorneys at Krum, Gergely & Oates, LLC are experienced in negotiating and litigating uninsured motorist claims and they know the ins and outs of how to maximize your compensation after an accident.

Call us today for a free consultation.