Hit-and-run accidents can occur suddenly, leaving you feeling confused as the at-fault driver vanishes without a trace. What next steps should you take? How can you pursue compensation for your damages? According to accident injury lawyers in Houston and San Antonio, the actions you take immediately after the accident will have a big impact on the outcome of your case.
Were You Injured in a Hit-and-Run? 8 Things You Need to Do Right Away
1. Check Yourself and Others for Injuries
Your health and safety should be your number one concern after any accident. Immediately after the crash, check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If any other cars or pedestrians were involved in the crash, ask if anyone else needs assistance. By law, individuals involved in an accident must render aid to others when necessary.
You should always go to the hospital after a crash, even if you do not feel injured. Having a medical professional check you for injuries ensures that you can receive treatment as soon as possible. If you don’t feel hurt, your adrenaline could be masking a serious condition. Additionally, any tests done at the ER or treatments you receive will become part of your medical record, which can be used as evidence in a personal injury case.
2. Put Your Car in a Safe Place, If Possible
It is important to secure your vehicle in order to prevent further injuries and damage. If your accident happened in the middle of the road and your vehicle can be moved, pull over to a safe place immediately.
3. Call the Police
Notifying the police of the crash will result in an accident report that can be used as further evidence in your case. With the right information, there is even a chance that the officers will be able to catch the person who hit you. Hit-and-runs are illegal in Texas, constituting either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the extent of the damage and whether or not there were any fatalities.
After notifying the police, you should wait at the scene of the crash until they arrive. Before leaving, make a note of the report number and the names of the officers who responded to your call. Your accident injury lawyer will want to have this information in order to access the accident report.
4. Collect Information From Witnesses
Witness testimonies are viable evidence in car accident cases. In addition to getting the names of the responding officers, take down the contact information of any bystanders who saw the accident take place. Their testimonies could provide details regarding what caused the crash, and they might recall seeing the other driver, his or her vehicle, and/or the other car’s license plate.
5. Take Videos and Photos of the Damage
The documentation you create on a smartphone can be presented as evidence, so it is important to take some footage of the accident before you leave. If the person who hit you drove off, you will only be recording the damage done to your own car, which is better than getting no footage at all. Make sure to take shots from multiple angles, paying careful attention to areas of the car that were hit.
After taking your own footage, ask other individuals at the scene of the crash if they were able to get any videos or photos. Sometimes, witnesses to hit-and-runs are able to capture the accident as it occurs, making it possible for the authorities to catch the culprit. Surveillance cameras are another potential source of footage.
6. Notify Your Insurance
You should notify your insurance after any car accident, but it is especially important to get in touch with them after a hit-and-run. If the at-fault driver is not found, you will likely be relying on your own policy to cover the damage. Many insurance providers specify that in order to take advantage of the terms of your policy, you must notify them of an accident within a limited period of time following the crash.
7. Write Down Everything You Remember
Your recollection of the accident can be a valuable source of details that will facilitate the investigation. While your memory is fresh, write down everything you can remember about what the other driver looked like, what kind of car he or she was in, and what events led to the crash. Did he or she run a red light? Did he or she take an illegal turn?
If you were able to see the other car’s license plate number before it disappeared, be sure to make a note of it. However, you should never chase after the other vehicle. Pursuing another driver could lead to more injuries.
8. Contact an Accident Injury Lawyer in Houston or San Antonio
Getting compensation after a hit-and-run can be tricky. Texas is an at-fault state, meaning that under normal circumstances, you would file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. If the other driver cannot be found, you will need to turn to other sources for compensation. An accident injury lawyer who has experience with hit-and-run accidents can help you look into your options.
How Do Accident Injury Lawyers Recommend Pursuing Compensation After a Hit-and-Run?
If you followed the steps listed above, you have already increased the chances that the culprit will be found. If the police can track down the person who hit you, he or she will be responsible for paying for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages in addition to the fines associated with fleeing an accident scene.
Unfortunately, some hit-and-run drivers are never located. If you must recover compensation without relying on the other driver’s insurance, you might be able to use your own policy. These types of coverage might pay for damages caused by a hit-and-run:
- Uninsured/underinsured driver insurance
- Personal injury protection
Communicating With Your Insurance Company
If you are seeking compensation from your own insurance company, you are bound by the terms you agreed to when you took out your policy. Often, those terms require you to give a recorded statement after filing a claim.
The purpose of the recorded statement is to give the insurance company an opportunity to find evidence that you do not require as much compensation as you claim. In some cases, the insurance company may even try to invalidate your claim altogether. Your accident injury lawyer can help you prepare for the recorded statement by planning answers to the kinds of questions you might receive.
Holding the Other Driver Accountable
In the best-case scenario, the authorities are able to locate the other driver. Your accident injury lawyer can help you prepare for that possibility by making sure you gather the evidence needed to demonstrate that the other driver caused the accident. Your evidence can include medical records, witness statements, surveillance footage, and other kinds of documentation.
Experiencing a hit-and-run can be frightening and costly. Our accident injury lawyers in Houston and San Antonio are there to support you, even when pursuing compensation is tough. We will fight to maximize your chances of either finding the culprit or recovering your losses through your insurance. To schedule a free consultation, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC.