Any car accident can rattle your nerves. But a hit-and-run can make it seem particularly difficult to know what to do next. You may feel especially uncertain about how to pursue compensation for your hit-and-run accident injuries and losses.
After any hit-and-run accident, it’s critical to make your health and safety a top priority. Then, you can turn to taking the steps necessary to protect your legal rights. Here’s an overview of some things you can do after a hit-and-run crash, To protect your position and get maximum compensation with the help of car accident lawyer.
Table of Contents
- Seek Prompt Medical Attention
- Report the Crash to the Authorities
- Promptly but Carefully Report the Crash to Your Insurer
- Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
- Now You Can Focus on Healing and Recovery
- What Not to Do After a Hit-and-Run?
- Contact an Experienced Hit-and-Run Lawyer Today
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
Nothing’s more important after a hit-and-run accident than ensuring your health and well-being. Obviously, if you need emergency medical care, call 911 and take an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital.
But it’s also critically important to seek medical attention even if you feel ok after a hit-and-run. Many potentially devastating injuries common to car accidents like spinal damage, internal bleeding, or brain trauma can be difficult for the injured victim to recognize in the stressful aftermath of a crash. It’s extremely risky to rely on a self-assessment of your condition. The safest course of action is to go directly to an urgent care center for an exam by a qualified medical professional who can screen you for injuries and begin any necessary treatment.
Getting prompt medical care also protects you legally. It creates records of your injuries after a crash that can serve as powerful evidence in a claim for compensation. It also documents that you took care of yourself, thereby preventing insurers and at-fault parties from arguing that you should bear the blame for your condition.
Report the Crash to the Authorities
Always report a hit-and-run crash to the authorities. It’s best to do so immediately by calling 911 from the accident scene. But if seeking medical care prevents that, do it at your earliest opportunity.
Reporting a hit-and-run serves numerous purposes.
- It fulfills your legal duties as an accident victim.
- It notifies the authorities of a potentially dangerous driver who they need to try to find immediately.
- It increases your odds of holding the hit-and-run driver financially accountable for your losses.
- It creates an official record of the accident that can help in proving that it happened.
- It triggers a police investigation that will culminate in an accident report that can contain useful information for an insurance claim or lawsuit for damages.
You have the right to obtain a copy of that report from the police, and should do so as soon as it’s available usually within two weeks of your report.
Promptly but Carefully Report the Crash to Your Insurer
If you carry an auto insurance policy that could cover your losses in a hit-and-run accident, you may have the obligation to notify your insurer promptly in order to protect your right to file a claim. If so, and you haven’t yet hired a lawyer (see below), make that report as soon as you need to. Just do it carefully.
Even though you’re their customer, an insurance company will look for reasons to deny or limit your coverage after a car accident. That can be especially true when you’ve gotten hurt in a hit-and-run, if you carry uninsured motorist coverage (which is a common component of auto insurance policies).
Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you get hurt in a crash caused by a driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance (which is illegal, but it can happen). In effect, your insurance company steps in to pay for the liabilities the at-fault driver’s insurance would have paid, if the driver carried it.
When an accident triggers your uninsured motorist coverage, your own insurance company faces potential liability for damages that your standard auto policy might not otherwise have covered, such as your full medical or long-term care expenses or your pain and suffering.
Hit-and-run accidents can trigger uninsured motorist coverage. They may also trigger other auto insurance protection you carry, like collision damage coverage or personal injury protection (PIP). Reporting a hit-and-run to your own insurer, in other words, puts them on notice of a potentially large liability that they might well prefer not to have to pay.
To protect yourself, keep your notification to the insurer purely factual. Stick only to what happened. Do not get drawn into a discussion of whether you might be to blame. And do not say things that could sound like you accept some responsibility, like that you’re sorry or that you should have seen the hit-and-run driver coming.
Worried about saying the wrong thing to your insurance company? An experienced lawyer can handle the notification process on your behalf, if you connect with one quickly.
Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
The most effective and efficient way to protect your rights after getting hurt in a hit-and-run accident is to contact a skilled attorney right away. The sooner you have an experienced lawyer representing your interests, the better your chances of recovering maximum compensation for your losses.
The right lawyer for your case can handle the entire process of seeking payment for damages on your behalf. You won’t need to worry about dealing directly with aggressive insurance adjusters or gathering evidence to support a claim. An attorney can do that for you.
But that’s not all. Lawyers provide a host of essential services to injured crash victims like you.
An experienced car accident attorney can:
- Investigate the hit-and-run to try to identify the driver or other potentially liable parties
- Analyze your and other parties’ insurance policies to determine whether they cover your losses
- Evaluate the damages you’ve suffered to ensure you claim the maximum compensation to which you’re entitled
- Answer your questions, advise you about your options, and counsel you about how to make important life, medical, and financial decisions that may affect your rights
- Handle all communications with insurance companies on your behalf
- Prepare and file claims or lawsuits for compensation on your behalf
- Negotiate settlements of your claim
- Advise you about whether to accept or reject a settlement offer
- Represent you in court and take your case to trial
- Collect and distribute the money owed to you
An attorney will most likely agree to provide all of these services to you on a contingent fee basis. You won’t have to pay a dime upfront and the lawyer won’t bill you by the hour. Instead, the lawyer will only earn a fee by recovering money on your behalf. In other words, the lawyer only gets paid if you get paid.
You May Have the Right to Receive Significant Compensation
A lawyer’s principle aim in providing the types of services listed above is to get you the maximum payment possible for the losses you suffered in a hit-and-run accident. Numerous parties could have an obligation to pay for the harm you’ve suffered. And you could stand to collect significant compensation for a wide range of losses.
Potential Liability for Hit-and-Run Losses
Hit-and-run accident victims often worry that they won’t be able to recover money damages, especially if the authorities fail to identify the hit-and-run driver. But often, their prospects for compensation are better than they think.
A skilled attorney can dig into the circumstances of a hit and run to identify all parties who may have financial liability for a victim’s losses, such as:
- As discussed above, the victim’s own uninsured motorist, collision, PIP, or other insurance coverage
- The hit-and-run driver
- A business identified as the owner of the hit-and-run vehicle
- The owner of private property where the accident occurred
- An automotive manufacturer that produced defective parts that contributed to the cause of the crash
- A municipal government or contractor responsible for unreasonably dangerous road conditions that played a role in the crash
Do not give up on receiving compensation simply because your accident was a hit-and-run. Consult with an experienced lawyer right away to learn about potential options for seeking payment in your case.
Potential Compensation in a Hit-and-Run
If one or more parties owes you compensation for your hit-and-run accident losses, you stand to receive a potentially significant amount of money. You generally have the right, as an accident victim, to claim payment for the full range of damages you’ve sustained.
That can include money for:
- Your medical treatments
- The cost of repairing or replacing your damaged property
- Expenses stemming from living with or adapting to your injury
- Earnings and job benefits you lost by missing work
- Future income you will not earn because of your injury
- Your physical pain and emotional distress
- Your diminished quality of life
- Your daily inconvenience or loss of independence
- The difficulty of living with scarring or disfigurement
An experienced lawyer can evaluate your losses and advise you about the amount you might claim. For many accident victims like you, it turns out to be a lot more than they expect.
Now You Can Focus on Healing and Recovery
A hit-and-run accident often results in severe injuries. By hiring a lawyer to handle your claim, you can devote your time and energy to healing and recovering from them. And that’s just what you should be doing to protect your rights. By going to medical appointments, doing your physical therapy, taking your medication, and following your doctor’s instructions about activities to avoid, you give yourself the best chance of making meaningful improvement.
You also protect your legal rights. Following through with a medical treatment plan usually fulfills your obligation to take reasonable care of yourself in the wake of an accident. It helps to prevent anyone from claiming that you made your injuries worse, or that you do not deserve as much money as you claim. And it continues to generate the medical records your lawyer may need to prove your case for damages.
What Not to Do After a Hit-and-Run?
After a hit-and-run accident, it can also be helpful to avoid the following potential missteps. Hiring a lawyer can also protect you against making these mistakes.
Do Not Agree to or Sign a Settlement Offer Without a Lawyer’s Input
Remember, insurance companies even your own auto policy issuer would prefer not to have to pay for the damages you suffered in a hit-and-run accident. But they may try to convince you otherwise by making a quick offer to settle your potential damages claim. Their overture might seem generous and well-intentioned, but it’s probably not. Chances are it actually falls well short of the amount you deserve to receive, and is designed to tempt you into giving up your rights cheaply.
Never agree to any settlement offer made to you directly without first consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer. The same goes for signing documents an insurance company sends to you. Make sure a lawyer reviews anything you receive from an insurer first.
Do Not Minimize Your Injuries
Some people who get hurt in car accidents have a tendency to want to minimize their injuries. They’ll tell people they “feel ok” or that “it could have been worse”, for example. But beware. Making casual comments like that might feel normal, but they can be costly, especially if you say them to an investigator or post them on social media.
Insurance companies and defense lawyers will seize on any statement that minimizes your injury as a reason for you to receive less than you deserve, or nothing at all. The better course of action is to limit what you say in public about your injuries, so that no one has the opportunity to misconstrue them.
Do Not Wait to Seek Legal Advice
To preserve your right to compensation, you must take legal action before a deadline called the statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, you will likely lose your rights to claim damages. Hiring a lawyer immediately is the safest way to ensure that no deadlines get missed in your case.
In addition, the longer you wait to seek a lawyer’s counsel, the more difficult it can become to build a case on your behalf. As time passes, evidence tends to go missing and witness memories tend to fade. Act now to give yourself the best shot at maximum compensation.
Contact an Experienced Hit-and-Run Lawyer Today
Don’t give up hope after you suffer losses in a hit-and-run accident. You may yet have the ability to claim substantial amounts of money damages, if you hire a skilled lawyer who knows how to fight for your rights. To learn more, contact our personal injury attorney in Philadelphia today for a free case consultation.
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