Hit-and-run accidents are on the rise. Fatal hit and runs were up 23 percent in Florida in 2014. Across the continent in LA, they're up to 50 percent of all accidents. While the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Florida (especially if you're intoxicated) have increased significantly, the fact remains that it's getting more common; if our friends in California are anything to judge by. As such, it pays to know how to protect yourself.
It's important to note that about half of the victims of hit-and-run drivers are pedestrians. As such, there may be little the victim can do in the immediacy to produce information about what happened, so if you're a witness to a hit and run, it may be on you to provide this info.
The biggest issue in a hit and run is finding out who the perpetrator is. You should obviously be as careful as any injuries you have and the traffic situation require. Your health and safety are the No. 1 concern. That said; get as much information as you can. Get the make, model, color and license plate number of the offending vehicle — even a partial plate or partial info is helpful. If the license plate looks out-of-state to you, make sure you write down the state or the look of the plate, too.
Write down everything you can as soon as practical — anything you recall about the vehicle (like a dent or other identifying marks or stickers) and anything you can think of about the driver (gender, race, height, weight, age, hair color… anything).
The name and contact info of any witnesses — if they make note of anything they saw, write that down too.
Avoid chasing down the other driver, either in your vehicle or on foot. The primary concern is safety, and it can be dangerous or even fatal in the wrong circumstances.
Call the Police
As soon as possible, call the police. Give them any information you gathered for their police report. They may or may not immediately look for the suspect, depending on the circumstances. To them, it may be more important to gather as much information as possible from you and other witnesses while your memories are still fresh. It’s often unlikely they'll find them immediately anyway since they could've gone in any direction. Make sure when it's ready; you follow up and get a copy of the police report.
Call Your Insurance Carrier
They're likely to be skeptical, but they need to know as soon as possible you were involved in a hit-and-run. Don't say anything that could imply it might be even partially your fault, but understand they'll ask you a lot of question to ensure they aren't paying out a fraudulent claim.
They may or may not pay a claim out, depending on your insurance. Depending on whether you need medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage or anything else covered, it will likely be a combination of your uninsured motorists and collision that pays any claims. Don't discuss what you plan to claim with them until you've seen a doctor and a Kissimmee personal injury lawyer.
Call a Qualified Hit-and-Run Attorney
When it comes to hit-and-runs, it's on the police to find the offending driver, but a qualified Kissimmee, FL car accident lawyer can ensure the police meet all their obligations and protect you from insurance companies, who are typically vigilant about ensuring they pay as little for your claim as possible. Additionally, when the police do find the other driver, your attorney can help you file your claim to receive the damages you feel you're owed.
To find out more about how you can benefit from legal representation, call Draper Law Offices at 866.767.4711 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.