What to Do After A Hit and Run Accident in California
Any car accident can be traumatic, but if a vehicle hits your car and then leaves the scene of the accident, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Left alone—without acknowledgement or assistance from the other driver—can be a terrifying experience. Following these necessary steps will help to ensure that you protect yourself as best as possible after a hit and run accident in the State of California.
Safety First – Your safety is paramount. Make sure to move the car off of the roadway, if possible. If it is not possible to move to a safe spot, then turn your hazard lights on. Never leave the scene of the accident. Make sure to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself as safe as possible until the police and an ambulance arrive.
Call for Help – Contact 911. Tell the emergency operator immediately that you have been in a hit and run accident. Provide your phone number to the operator and your location. If you do not have a cellphone, ask a witness or any other person who stops to please call the police for you. Make sure never to embellish the facts, but let the operator know if you or a passenger need immediate medical attention.
Write Down Important Information – Make sure to have your own information available for law enforcement. If you are able to attempt to write down additional information, it may prove helpful in the investigation. Some of the information you can provide includes the details of the other car such as any part of the license plate number, the direction the car traveled after the accident, the type, make, model and color of the car, whether the car was a 2 or 4-door, any details or unusual marking on the car or missing parts, any stickers or dents, any details regarding the driver or passengers, and any other identifying information.
Write down the names and phone numbers of all witnesses to the accident, as well as all other information regarding the accident. If you are physically able to do, take pictures with your cell phone of the damage to your car, any physical injuries you have, as well as the location of the accident.
Ask for Help From Witnesses – If there are any witnesses to the accident, ask them to take pictures for you as well, and write down any information that they can regarding the accident. Have witnesses look around your car for additional evidence such as paint chips or bits of damage from your car, or the car that left the scene of the accident.
Provide Law Enforcement with All Facts – The police are there to help you. Provide them with all of the facts regarding your hit and run accident, what happened, what injuries you are suffering, and any other pertinent information. Attempt to give a detailed description of the other car, if possible. Any information that you, or the witnesses, wrote down will be vital to the development of your case.
Seek Medical Care If you were injured in any way in the hit and run accident, you should seek medical care and attention as soon as possible. Allow yourself to be examined by the ambulance medical professionals even if you think you are not injured. Some injuries may be undetectable due to your adrenaline and only noticed by a medical professional. Typically, some pain will not appear until one or two days after an accident. If you continue to feel your injuries, you should seek additional medical care from a doctor regarding any pain or physical problems you may have. Keep detailed notes of your doctor’s visits, medical bills, prescriptions, and medical treatment or care that you receive.
Create an Accident File – Start a file that contains everything about your car accident. Make sure to include all of the information you collected at the scene of the accident, as well as any subsequently discovered information. Keep all witness contact information, as well as the police report in the file as well. Take copies of all medical bills, prescriptions, and medical treatments you receive. Any time lost from work should be documented as well, and lost wages should be calculated. A personal diary can be kept regarding your pain and suffering after the accident, both physical and emotional. If you need to hire a housecleaner because you are physically unable to clean your home, document this as well. Anything that may relate to your accident should go in this accident file.
If your accident occurred close to your home, keep an eye out for any vehicles that match the one that fled the scene of your accident. Make notes of these cars and report them to the police department. Additionally, contact the police department a few days after your accident to check on the status of your case, and ask if there have been any leads regarding any potential suspects. Request a copy of the full police report for your accident file.
Contact Your Insurance Company – You will need to contact your insurance company regarding the car accident. Make sure to provide them your insurance policy number, your police report number, and any other identifying information. Read your insurance policy or have a family member read it for you if you are not feeling well enough to do this. It is important to know the details of your coverage before you contact your insurance company.
Document all the conversations you have with your insurance company and what they tell you. Never provide any more information than is required. Do not say things like “I’ll probably feel fine soon” or “It wasn’t that bad.” Leave any subjective commentary out of your discussions with the insurance company, as these comments can be used against you to decrease the amount of settlement offered.
Vehicle Repair – Before you have your vehicle repaired, make sure you visit with an attorney or your insurance agent to inspect the car. Get an estimate for the full repair and/or replacement of your car from a repair shop that is recommended by your insurance agency. You may be able to use your own repair shop, but it may have to be approved by your insurance company.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
The police may never find the person who fled the scene of your hit and run accident. However, following these steps can help ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries.
At Silverthorne Attorneys, our knowledgeable and skilled accident attorneys help car accident victims recover the compensation they deserve for their injuries, even in hit and run accidents. For a complimentary consultation of your case, contact us at (949) 234-6034 or online today.