What Should You Do in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident is somewhat self-explanatory: A driver hits you or your stationary car, notices that there could be injuries, and then flees the scene. There are strict legal penalties associated with this kind of behavior, both in the criminal and the civil courts. But one of the most difficult steps in a hit-and-run case is identifying which party is liable, and ensuring that they are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Our Oklahoma hit-and-run lawyers at Martin Jean & Jackson discuss how you should proceed if you’ve been injured.
Identifying the Parties Liable for Your Hit-and-Run
Hit-and-run accidents are notoriously complex. There are often criminal charges in addition to any civil proceedings – and anything uncovered in the criminal court can be subject for use in the civil court, as well. If you or the police were able to successfully identify the person responsible, then they may be criminally charged, and the lawsuit will proceed alongside that.
However, if you are unable to identify the person responsible, your insurance will be the most likely candidate to cover these accidents. Because hit-and-runs have no insurance company on the other end, you will likely need to use uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to pay for damages. Insurance companies may be reluctant to pay you the financial assistance that you need, so in some cases, you may still need the assistance of an attorney to navigate the negotiations.
Below are a few of the steps that you should follow after you’ve been in a hit-and-run accident:
- If you’re driving, pull over safely: Many involved in a hit-and-run will attempt to apprehend or even chase the suspected driver, but this more often than not makes the situation worse. Pull to the side and confirm your injuries.
- Call the police immediately: Getting the police to the scene as quickly as possible will increase your chances of finding the person responsible, and in getting your insurance company to cover any losses. It will also allow them confirm that your accident was, indeed, a hit-and-run rather than an at fault accident, as these are considered crimes.
- Ask eyewitnesses: It’s possible that some passerby witnessed the hit-and-run event. While your injuries may be too serious to speak with them directly, see if you can gather details from the police incident report.
- Keep all records of medical expenses: In proving a hit-and-run case, it’s vital to show that you suffered and that they must pay the maximum consultation. Keeping a thorough record of your medical expenses can help.
- Contact your insurance company: It’s incredibly important to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Regardless of whether the culprit is eventually found, the insurance company may be able to help you to cover the damages through uninsured motorist coverage.
Seek Civil Penalties for Hit-and-Run Accidents
Because hit-and-run cases are incredibly complex, it’s always best to consult with a skilled attorney with experience in that area. Even when the case seems straightforward, validating any eyewitness accounts and actually holding the driver accountable in a court of law can be much more difficult than it seems.
At Martin Jean & Jackson, we make it our priority to help those who have been left to struggle with serious injuries in the wake of a hit-and-run. We’ve seen firsthand how these tragic accidents can leave clients with an overwhelming sense of helplessness, and our firm has helped the victims of more than 15,000 car accidents – including hit-and-run accident victims – to seek justice.
If you’ve been injured in Oklahoma, our personal injury team is here for you. Just give us a call at (580) 290-1006 to receive a free consultation on your injury case.