How to Report a Hit and Run Car Accident
As an experienced hit and run lawyer, pedestrian accident lawyer, and Baltimore car accident lawyer at a personal injury law firm John Leppler knows that being involved in a hit and run can quickly turn into one of the most unpleasant experiences of your life. That is mainly because so many things can go wrong following your hit and run car accident.
You may get injured as a result of the accident. Even if you avoid injury, your vehicle may be in such rough shape that you cannot drive it. With the perpetrator fleeing from the scene, you may also have difficulty claiming compensation.
Hit and run accidents can put victims in tough spots. However, that does not mean that you should give up on your case.
Report the incident properly and watch how things unfold. There is a chance that you can still do something about your current predicament by reporting it. Stay tuned to find out how you should report a hit and run accident.
The Process of Reporting a Hit and Run Accident in Maryland
The only way you can receive compensation for the losses you sustained following the accident is by reporting the other party involved. You should not let them get away with committing a crime. Report them to the authorities so they are held accountable.
Let’s start from the moment the accident occurs, so you have a better idea of what to do if you ever find yourself in that situation.
Check Yourself for Injuries
In the aftermath of a hit and run accident, your priority should always be your safety.
Drivers can sustain some serious injuries from hit and run accidents. If a car hits your vehicle from behind, you can suffer from a whiplash injury. You can also get a concussion if the impact from the crash causes your head to hit a hard object.
Take those injuries seriously because they can have significant short and long-term effects. Heading to the doctor after being involved in a car accident is highly recommended so they can check you for traumatic brain injuries.
Bruises, cuts, and broken bones are also fairly common injuries caused by car accidents.
If the other vehicle rammed into your vehicle from behind, you could sustain a back or spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries can cause extreme pain, paralysis, and loss of bowel or bladder control, among other worrying symptoms.
Given the potential severity of your injuries, you should avoid moving around if you believe you are hurt. You should also check on your companions, if you have any, and see if they are injured.
Reach Out to the Police and/or Paramedics
The next thing you need to do is contact emergency service providers. Place a call to the police and ask them to head to the accident site.
Reporting to the police at this early juncture will be crucial. It will be easier for them to gather evidence soon after the hit and run accident. They can collect physical evidence at the scene and piece together what happened. You can also share any details you remember about the other driver with the police.
Tell them about the color and model of the vehicle, its plate number, and any other details you can recall. There is no such thing as sharing too much information if you are trying to identify a criminal, so provide anything you can.
During your 911 call, you can also call for paramedics if you or your companions are injured.
Collect Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
The emergency responders may not arrive at the scene of the accident for a few minutes. While waiting for them to show up, you can walk around and attempt to collect evidence.
Approach any people you see near the accident site. Ask them if they recall anything about the other vehicle. They may have picked up some details you did not so do not shy away from asking around.
Record the conversation you are having with the witnesses so you will have an easier time extracting the relevant details from their testimony. Remember to ask permission before you start recording, or else your witnesses may hesitate to provide details. You can also write down what they are saying if they do not want you to record them.
Make sure you get the contact details of your witnesses before you stop talking to them. In all likelihood, the authorities will want to talk to them later in the investigation, so they need to be reachable.
You should also take pictures of your vehicle and the accident site to create a clearer picture of what happened. Taking pictures of the injuries you and your companions sustained is also a good idea because you can use those photographs as evidence.
Report the Hit and Run Accident to Your Insurance Provider
Reporting your hit and run accident to the authorities is essential if you want them to catch your assailant. Do not wait too long to inform them about the accident because every second counts in these types of cases.
However, reporting only to the authorities will not suffice. You should also find time to report what happened to your insurance provider.
Why is reporting to your insurance provider important? For starters, most insurers have rules that require their policyholders to report any accident they are involved in. You could be violating provisions in your contract if you withhold information from your insurance provider.
Upon discovering that you failed to report the accident, your insurer may decide to cancel your policy. Suddenly, you are recovering from your injuries, getting your vehicle repaired, and looking for a new insurer. Do yourself a favor and report to your insurer to avoid those problems.
Do not be afraid to report the incident because you are afraid that your insurer will increase your rates. As long as the investigation reveals that you were not at fault for the accident, your insurer will likely not ask you to pay more.
Share Only the Basic Details of the Accident with Your Insurer
You must report the car accident to your insurer. There is no getting around that requirement.
That said, you do not need to share detail about the incident while you are reporting.
Based on the details you provide; your insurer could argue that the accident was your fault. If that happens, you may have a harder time getting coverage. They may also use that as a reason to raise your rates.
It is highly unlikely that they will deny you coverage. Still, you cannot risk that happening because there is no guarantee that they catch the driver who hit you.
For now, hold off on sharing too many details with your insurer. Let the investigation play out more before involving them further. You can also seek legal assistance before speaking at length with your insurance provider.
Visit a Doctor
We mentioned this earlier, but visiting a doctor is also something you should do after your hit and run car accident. You should consult your doctor not only because they can assess your injuries. Consulting with them is also important because it allows you to fill out your report further.
Request a thorough examination so the doctor can hone in on any injuries you may have. Once you can ascertain the extent of your injuries, you can report the results to the police. Report any injuries that your companions may have sustained as well.
The police will intensify their search for your assailant if it turns out that you or your companions were badly hurt from the incident.
Partner Up with a Lawyer
With your reporting complete, you can now turn your attention to seeking legal assistance. Hire a Baltimore personal injury lawyer because their services will prove incredibly helpful at this stage.
You can ask your lawyer to speak to the witnesses you interviewed earlier. They may have recalled some other details about the accident that could help the authorities identify your assailant.
Aside from the witnesses, your lawyer can also speak to the owners of establishments near the accident site. They may have video footage of your hit and run accident. Ask your lawyer to retrieve those videos so they can use them in the investigation.
Your lawyer can also serve as your main point of contact between the police and your insurer. If new developments emerge, your lawyer can report them back to you.
Can You Be Blamed for the Hit and Run Accident?
The state of Maryland follows the principle of contributory negligence when determining how to award damages in lawsuits. Do not disregard that fact because it could affect your chances of receiving compensation.
Contributory negligence prevents plaintiffs from recovering damages in any lawsuit if an investigation reveals that they are partially to blame for the accident.
They could bar you from recovering damages no matter how small your contributions were to what happened. At the same time, it could save the defendant from paying out any compensation even if they bear 99 percent of the blame.
As you can expect, a rule like that being in place could have serious ramifications on your case. Let’s examine how contributory negligence could bar you from receiving compensation following a hit and run accident.
How Contributory Negligence Can Keep Motorists from Receiving Compensation
The driver who hit your vehicle and fled the scene immediately after committed a crime. There is no doubt about that.
While investigating the accident, the authorities may seek to find out if you were guilty of a violation too.
They would look through the evidence to see if you made an improper turn, ran a red light, or committed other violations. The police will also talk to witnesses to check if you were being reckless behind the wheel like the other driver.
The facts will speak for themselves in cases like these. You should be fine as long as you were following the law while you were driving.
In some cases, the police may excuse the mistake you made while driving if you gave the other party ample opportunity to react accordingly. If they did not correct their actions and still hit your vehicle, they receive 100% of the blame. If they drove away from the scene, it would be a huge factor that can tilt the odds in favor of you receiving compensation.
How Contributory Negligence Can Keep Pedestrians from Receiving Compensation
Drivers are not the only potential victims of hit and run accidents. Reckless drivers could hit pedestrians crossing the road.
When judging whether or not a pedestrian shares blame for a hit and run accident, it helps to recall Maryland’s safety laws.
According to the state of Maryland, drivers must stop for any pedestrian using a crosswalk. The law also states that drivers should not pass a vehicle that has stopped to let a pedestrian cross the road. In that case, they will charge the driver who kept going with a crime.
Motorists are also obligated to exercise due care when driving close to pedestrians. If need be, they must use their horn to alert pedestrians to their presence. They must also be extra careful around distressed pedestrians.
If you were the pedestrian hit, it could disqualify you from receiving compensation if you were acting irresponsibly. They could bar you from receiving compensation because you failed to use a crosswalk or ignored the traffic signals.
Always follow the law when you are crossing the road because doing so shields you from liability. You will not worry about missing compensation as long as you were adhering to the rules of the road.
Enlisting the services of a good lawyer in your hit and run case is necessary. You will need their help in tracking down your assailant and securing your rightful compensation.
Reach out to us at Leppler Injury Law if you need an accident lawyer. Rest assured that we will not stop until justice is properly served in your case.