Pennsylvania law requires that all parties involved in an accident remain at the scene. However, many drivers choose to flee the area instead, leaving those injured or with damage to their vehicles feeling helpless and frustrated. Speaking with law enforcement as well as a car accident lawyer as soon as possible is very important when you have been the victim of a hit-and-run crash. Even if the other driver is never identified, you could still receive compensation for your injuries. The following steps should be taken following a hit-and-run accident to protect your rights.
Document and Gather Information
You should gather as much information about the crash as possible. Write down any observations of the vehicle or the driver that hit you, such as the color, make, and model of the car or any distinguishing features of the driver like hairstyle or clothing. Note the approximate time and location of the crash as closely as possible. If any witnesses were in the area, speak with them about what they saw and obtain their contact information. Ask them to write a statement for your records. The observations and statements of your witnesses may become important at a later date.
You can also use your smartphone, as almost everyone has on them these days, to take pictures and videos of the scene as well as any injuries or damages you sustained.
Contact the Police
The police should be called right away following a hit-and-run accident. When the officer arrives, they will document the accident scene and will take photographs of the damage to your vehicle. A trained police investigator will look for clues about the other car, including analyzing any damaged vehicle parts that were left behind at the scene. The driver may have left personal items at the scene that can aid in identification.
It is important to provide the officer with a complete and detailed statement of the crash. Your statement, along with the officer’s notes and observations, will become part of a police report that serves as official documentation of the accident. After leaving the scene, the police investigation will continue as authorities search for the suspect. It is, after all, illegal to leave the scene of an accident that you are involved in or caused. The police may seek to gain access to footage if there are any cameras in the area where the hit-and-run accident occurred. Nowadays, it is a lot more likely than it used to be that crucial footage could actually exist, since so many people have cameras around their homes and businesses, and so many roads and streets have cameras on them now as well.
Your statement, along with the statements of any witnesses, will play a crucial role in locating the hit-and-run driver. Make sure you include as much information as you can remember about the car and driver that fled the scene.
Seek Medical Treatment
Many Philadelphia hit-and-run accidents will result in injuries, and sometimes those injuries can be severe. You should seek medical treatment right away, even if you think you aren’t hurt. While some car accident injuries are very apparent and obvious, others can emerge slowly in the days and weeks after the crash. Even when you seem to feel completely fine, and you haven’t located any injuries, it is never a bad idea to at least see a doctor to be checked out. If medical care is needed, you should always follow your doctor’s recommendations. Maintain any follow up visits and take any prescribed medications.
Car accident injuries can linger if they are not appropriately addressed. Listening and heeding your doctor’s medical advice ensures that your recovery happens as smoothly as possible.
It is also important for filing a potential claim to have documented medical evidence that you were evaluated on the same day as the accident. If you do not seek medical attention immediately, the insurance company may try to deny you compensation for your medical bills, asserting that your injuries did not arise from the crash.
File a Car Insurance Claim
Filing a claim with the insurance company is a key step in the process of recovering your damages. If the other driver is ultimately identified, your claim will be filed against their insurance company. In many cases, however, the suspect is never located. In these instances, you should file a claim with your own insurance carrier. In Pennsylvania, all drivers are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage typically kicks in when you were hit by a driver who does not have insurance. It also covers hit-and-run collisions when the other driver cannot be found to be held accountable for the collision.
Before filing your claim or speaking with an adjuster, it is always recommended to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia, PA. Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with, causing frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed for people who get injured in car accidents. Your time is valuable. Having an attorney by your side streamlines the communication process and allows you to focus on healing from your injuries while they represent you legally.
Hire a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney
The law is complicated. A hit-and-run crash is a unique type of accident that must be investigated and handled in a specific way. It is in the best interest of anyone injured this way to hire a Philadelphia, PA personal injury attorney with experience handling hit-and-run claims. Your attorney is your legal advocate and advisor. Their job is to make sure no stone is left unturned in seeking out the responsible party for your accident, as well as ensuring you are able to receive compensation for the damages this experience has caused you.
You are likely experiencing a range of emotions after a hit-and-run collision. The physical, mental, and emotional impacts of a hit-and-run crash can be significant. It can be overwhelming trying to remember all the proper steps you should take when something like this happens. After seeking medical attention, make sure to contact an attorney. Once you have them representing you, they can make sure everything else is properly handled.