- October 6, 2022
- Vehicle Accidents
Under New York state law, you must stop your vehicle if you crash into someone else. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the law. Anytime someone collides with an object or person and then intentionally leaves without providing identity or insurance information or assistance, it’s considered a hit-and-run. It doesn’t matter how minor the accident is.
Do you find yourself faced with injuries after someone hit you and drove off? You might be feeling helpless and wondering what you can do and how you can pay for your medical bills and the damage to your car. You can probably file a personal injury claim. However, the difficulty you might face is finding who to sue. You need to know your rights and what to do if you’re facing long-lasting impacts after a hit-and-run.
When wondering what to do after a hit-and-run, you should know it’s essential to stay to talk to witnesses and the police. You must carefully document everything for your insurance company and the police. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide.
Steps to Take Soon After a Hit-and-Run
There are several immediate actions you should take after someone hits you and leaves. There are also some things you should avoid doing.
1. Stay calm
Although it may be difficult, try to remain calm. If it’s safe to do so, remain in your car for a moment and take some deep breaths. This will help bring your heart rate down and give you a few seconds to make sure you and your passengers are okay. Panicking will not help you feel any better, and may actually make you feel worse. If you can’t stay calm, you may also act irrationally and be aggressive or angry with others trying to help, and that will be to your detriment.
Once you’ve verified everyone is alright, turn your hazard lights on and get to a safe place. That means you may need to move your car off the road.
2. Briefly try to assess the situation
Remaining calm will also help you assess the situation and remember the accident. By this point, you have probably realized the driver of the car that hit you has fled, so you need to focus and try to mentally note as many details as possible. You will want to write down the details later.
Thoroughly scan your body for injuries so you can report them when you call 911.
3. Call 911
The dispatcher will be able to send police and first responders right away. Even if you don’t think anyone is injured, you need to seek medical attention. Anything that seems minor needs to be assessed. Adrenaline can mask your pain. You don’t want to wake up with neck pain or soft tissue damage the next day without having it evaluated.
You need to get the police involved for many reasons. First, fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime. If the police are able to respond immediately, the chances that they will find the driver are dramatically increased.
Second, you will need a police report for your insurance. The police report will contain important information that will be helpful for your claim later on.
Finally, the police can help secure the scene and direct other traffic. You don’t want your wreck to cause other accidents.
4. Document the damage
Take the time while you’re waiting for police to arrive to document the accident. Written and picture or video documentation is best so you don’t have to rely on memory alone. You can take pictures and videos of the following:
- Your vehicle at different angles
- Any injuries you may have, including
- The road, showing:
- Whether the conditions were good or bad, such as rain or ice
- Any skid marks, signage, or damaged signs.
Try to take close-up pictures as well as wide-angle ones. The more photos, the better. You can even draw a diagram of the accident while it’s fresh in your mind.
Make a note on your phone or write down any details that you remember, including the day and time of the accident. You can take a picture and email it or text it to yourself so you don’t lose anything.
Also note any details you can about the other driver and car, such as:
- Physical description of the driver, including gender, approximate age, facial hair, and any distinguishing characteristics
- Any erratic behavior of the other person
- Whether there were any passengers in the other vehicle
- The license plate number, even if it’s the first few digits or a partial plate number
- The make, model, color, and approximate age of the other car (e.g., if it was an older model or brand new)
- Any distinguishing characteristics of the other car, like stickers or decals
- Which direction the other vehicle was going in
- Any damage to the other car, including which side of that vehicle hit yours
- Any underlying causes of the accident, like the driver was swerving or speeding.
Any information you can give the police will help them find the person who hit you. It will also help your insurance company seek damages from the driver and will help if you choose to sue. If you don’t have the information, don’t guess. It will only impede the investigation.
5. Look for witnesses and security cameras
Knock on nearby doors of businesses and people living near your accident. Don’t forget to ask about video surveillance. You will need to act quickly for footage, because some businesses and parking lots erase recordings every 24 hours.
Ask others what they saw and note if they say something different from what you remember. Also note if they saw something you didn’t. If they are willing to write and sign a statement, this is even better. One of them might have taken a video or gotten the license plate. Ask them to stay and wait for the police.
You will want details and contact information for those who were present. This includes:
- Name and badge number of the police officers
- Other motorists and passengers who saw what happened
- Any bystander who stopped to help you
- Any EMT who rendered first aid
- Medical personnel if you go to the hospital.
A lot of this information may be included in the police report, but you won’t know for sure until you receive a copy. Get it for yourself as early as possible. This will also help your lawyer start investigating if you have a claim.
6. Call your insurance company
You will need to start the claims process with your own insurance company after the accident. Call as soon as possible so the events are fresh in your memory. That increases the chances of being found not at fault.
Hit-and-run accidents aren’t always covered, but there are many instances where they are. Coverage varies from person to person, so your own policy may be able to cover your property damage and medical expenses. Be sure to mention that you were involved in a hit-and-run. Then, these coverages may come into play:
- Collision coverage—covers damage to your car
- Uninsured or underinsured property coverage—covers accidents when the other driver doesn’t have liability insurance or not enough to cover the total damage
- Personal injury protection—covers injuries and bodily damage.
The good news is that your insurance premiums are not likely to increase if you were in a no-fault hit-and-run accident. The most important thing is to make sure you’re found not to be at fault. The bad news is that you will likely need to meet your out-of-pocket deductibles. Deductibles usually have to be paid even if an accident wasn’t your fault.
Your own company and policy will dictate what is or isn’t covered from the accident. You’ll want to read your policy carefully to understand what (and how much) is covered. Also ask your lawyer to review the policy.
7. Contact a hit-and-run accident attorney
You should contact a lawyer to go after the other driver if they are found. Your insurance company will want reimbursement, but you deserve your own compensation, too. You may be able to recover for things like pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.
Non-Urgent Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run
When considering what to do after a hit-and-run accident, you should know that, in addition to those above, there are other actions you should take, but these don’t need to be done immediately.
- Document, document, document. It is helpful for you to take notes of any conversations you have with your insurance company, the police, or anyone involved in fixing your car or finding the driver. This will include any calls to witnesses, tow companies, and a garage or body shop. You will want your lawyer to have an accurate representation of any and all conversations regarding the damage that was paid for and any evidence needed for a claim later on.
- Follow-up on the claims process. You may need to make multiple calls over an extended period to make sure everything is taken care of. Your insurance company may ask you to provide more documents or information. Seek help from your lawyer if you run into issues getting anything covered.
- Make a note of where you went for your medical care. If you file a lawsuit, you will need copies of your records.
- Keep all follow-up medical appointments and follow doctor recommendations. This is not only important for your health and well-being, but also in the event you file a lawsuit to show that you made every reasonable effort to recuperate.
- Get a copy of the police report when it’s finished and available.
What Not to Do After a Hit-and-Run
Now that you know what to do, you also need to know what to avoid doing.
1. Do NOT follow the fleeing driver
Leaving the scene will cause you numerous problems. You could be breaking the law yourself. You will miss obtaining necessary medical treatment. You won’t be able to document the scene. And you might not get all the eyewitness accounts of what happened.
If you leave, the police might question whether you were the one at fault. You don’t want to risk being held responsible for speeding or other traffic violations. You would also risk getting into another accident or putting yourself in a dangerous situation with the other driver if you catch up.
When it comes to deciding when to leave the scene, you will want to wait until police or EMTs say it’s okay to leave.
2 Do NOT wait to call the police
If you wait, even a couple of hours can hurt you. You want to call immediately so the police can get started on their investigation and report. Police departments that get calls hours after a hit-and-run crash will say they can’t do much to help at that time.
3. Do NOT behave angrily or make negative comments
You are certainly in an infuriating situation. However, you don’t want to cause more chaos, so avoid yelling and obscenities. You also want to avoid saying anything that could suggest you were at fault, such as commenting about how you were in a hurry to get to your destination. When you bring a case, your response and behavior will be examined. You don’t want to add anything that can be used against you.
Different Types of Hit-and-Run Crashes
It’s important to note that not all hit-and-runs are the same. Here are a few ways you could be facing hit-and-run injuries:
- Driving hit-and-run. This occurs when a car fails to pull over or stop after colliding with another vehicle on the road.
- Parking hit-and-run. Sometimes, a driver will damage another person’s vehicle when it’s parked in a parking lot or on the street. This can be a sideswipe or backing into or out of another space. Instead of waiting for you to return or leaving contact information, the other driver leaves you with a damaged vehicle.
- Bicycle or pedestrian hit-and-run. Unfortunately, some drivers have left after seriously injuring joggers, motorcyclists, pedestrians in a crosswalk, or bicyclists.
Depending on the severity of the crash and injuries, and the egregiousness of the driver’s behaviors, the person could face serious criminal charges. Regardless of how you were involved in a hit-and-run, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your specific scenario.
Why Do People Leave the Scene?
There are many possible reasons why a driver might flee the scene of an accident they’ve caused. For example:
- He was driving without insurance or had inadequate insurance.
- He was driving under the influence and was worried about criminal charges.
- He panicked and acted impulsively. This could especially be true for inexperienced and young drivers.
- He was driving without a valid driver’s license.
- He wanted to avoid a personal injury lawsuit.
- He wanted to avoid increased insurance premiums.
- He was driving a stolen vehicle.
- He didn’t realize he hit something or thought it was too minor to bother stopping.
- He is in the country illegally and feared deportation if the police got involved.
- He was in a rush and didn’t want to take the time to deal with the issue.
- He had an outstanding arrest warrant and feared detention when the police arrived.
Overall, there are many reasons someone might leave the scene of an accident. The overarching reasons are fear of economic or criminal consequences. Whatever the reason, it is never acceptable to leave the scene of a collision. The serious implications make it even more important for you to contact a skilled attorney to help you.
What Money Damages Can I Get After a Hit-and-Run Accident?
There are a few sources of money after a hit-and-run accident. These include funds from the driver’s criminal case, funds from insurance, and funds from a lawsuit. An attorney can help you settle with your insurance. But an attorney can also educate you about and help with the following:
Compensation from the Driver’s Terms of Probation
If the hit-and-run driver is found, he or she will face criminal charges. The judge could order compensation (restitution) to the you, the victim of the crime. Payments could be a condition of the driver’s probation.
Victim Compensation Funds
As the victim of a crime, you might be eligible for compensation from the State. Your lawyer can help determine whether you are eligible for New York’s victim compensation funds.
Compensation from a Personal Injury Claim
If the driver is found, a settlement from a lawsuit should cover all of your expenses and losses. Out-of-pocket medical bills certainly should be covered. However, there are many other money damages that may be available to you, including:
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages or income
- Expenses for damage to your vehicle.
There might be other monetary damages available, depending on the circumstances.
Our New York Hit-and-Run Lawyer Will Help You
What happens after your hit-and-run accident will depend, in part, on the quality of lawyer you choose. It’s in your best interests to have someone with experience in these cases.
Contact Kaplan Lawyers as soon as possible at (516) 399-2364. We offer free consultations.
Our skilled and experienced attorneys are among the best lawyers handling these claims. Our accomplished legal team is fierce and determined when representing our clients, and we secure the awards that our clients deserve.
Attorney Jared S. Kaplan
Attorney Jared S. Kaplan has focused his career on advancing his legal knowledge though the day to day practice of law. Jared is a partner in the law firm of Kaplan Lawyers PC in Syosset, New York and has been a practicing attorney for nearly 20 years. His career started in litigation, so Jared is aware of the pitfalls in litigation and uses that knowledge in the representation of his clients in complex matters. [ Attorney Bio ]