What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
Being involved in a car accident is always upsetting, but hit-and-run accidents are particularly stressful to deal with. Even worse, hit-and-run accidents are far too common. In April 2018, research from AAA found that one hit-and-run accident happens every minute in the United States.
In the state of Michigan, failing to stop at the scene of an accident is considered a misdemeanor, but it can be considered a felony if the accident causes serious injury or death. According to the Michigan state vehicle code, “The driver of a vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he has been involved in an accident upon public or private property that is open to travel by the public shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall remain there until the requirements of section 619 are fulfilled or immediately report the accident to the nearest or most convenient police agency or officer to fulfill the requirements of section 619(a) and (b) if there is a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the scene will result in further harm. The stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.”
While there are criminal/civil actions that can be taken against those who are found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident, what should you do if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident?
If you’re in the car at the time of the hit-and-run accident, one of the best things you can do is stay calm and take as many notes as possible about the other car involved and the scene of the accident. Try to record the other vehicle’s license plate number, the color of the car, and the car’s make and model. Note exactly where the accident took place, when it happened, and what the conditions were like at the scene of the accident. Don’t forget to take pictures of the damage. If there were witnesses, get their names and contact information. All of these things will be important to have, so be sure to write them down.
Sometimes, hit-and-run accidents occur when the victim isn’t present, such as if a car is parked in a parking lot or on a street. If this is the case for you, use the time you parked and the time you discovered the accident as a general timeframe for when the accident occurred. Still make notes about things like where the accident happened and what the conditions might have been like when you think the accident occurred. What was the weather like at the time? Was there a lot of traffic at the time?
Move to Safety and Report the Accident
If you’re in the car at the time of the accident, try to move your car into a safe area. As tempting as might be to try and chase the other driver down, don’t try it. Trying to catch the other driver can lead to more dangerous situations. Instead, call the police to report the accident. Don’t forget to also contact your auto insurance company to notify them about the accident. Even if the other driver is never identified, in most states, victims are able to recover their damages through uninsured motorist insurance policies.
Get Help for Injuries
If the hit-and-run accident caused any injuries, be sure to get medical attention right away. Even if you’re unsure if you’ve been injured, it’s still a good idea to be checked by a doctor ASAP. Sometimes, car accident injuries take time to show and waiting to see a doctor can make it more difficult to prove that the accident caused your injuries. If injuries are involved, contact a car accident lawyer to get answers to your questions, learn more about your legal options, and find out how Michigan no-fault benefits apply to hit-and-run accident cases.