What If the Other Driver Leaves the Scene?
Fleeing the Scene of a Car Accident
Despite laws requiring drivers to remain at the scene of an accident, hit and run accidents do take place. In fact, according to the American Automobile Association, approximately 11% of all police-reported accidents involve a driver that leaves the scene. When you are involved in an accident, your main concern should be the health and well-being of yourself and others in the car with you. The least you could expect is for the at-fault party to stay at the scene and wait for the police to arrive.
What Happens if the Other Driver Leaves the Scene?
There are numerous reasons in which someone who caused a car wreck would decide to drive away. For starters, that person could be the subject of an active arrest warrant and he or she could be trying to evade police. In addition, that person may be drunk or intoxicated and fear being arrested for DUI. Other people choose to leave if it takes the police too long to arrive at the scene.
In some states, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. However, if you are in an accident in which the other driver flees the scene, below are steps that can be taken.
- Immediately try to get identifying information: Right after a car wreck, your adrenaline will be running and you most likely you will be shock from what happened. However, it is critical to get as much information on the at-fault party as possible. The first place to start is the license plate number. If you are unable to get that, record the make, model, year, and color of the vehicle that caused the accident. Other helpful characteristics such as tinted windows, custom rims, or window stickers can all help identify the driver. Further, pay attention to corporate logos, as that could help you track down the responsible driver or vehicle owner.
- Contact the police: In addition to recording identifying information, call the police. Investigating officers may be able to locate the fleeing party and arrest him or her for hit and run. In almost every state, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident when someone is injured or there is property damage. Moreover, having a police report to show when, where, and how an accident occurred will serve as a valuable tool when making your claim for damages with the insurance company, including your uninsured motorist carrier.
- Remember exactly how the accident happened: If the other driver leaves the scene, your recollection of how the accident happened will be one of the only things supporting your claim. It is very important to immediately document which direction you and the at-fault driver were traveling, what caused the accident to happen (failure to yield, running a stop sign, etc.), the location of the accident, and which direction the at-fault party fled when he left the scene.
- Resist the urge of chasing the at-fault party: Several issues arise when this happens. First, it messes with the accident scene. Many times if you leave the scene of the initial accident, it is hard to determine what exactly happened. Second, it could put you and your passengers in more danger. If the at-fault party is leaving the scene, they could be traveling at excessive speeds or be intoxicated which could potentially lead to another accident.
- Talk to all potential witnesses: Even if you did not get a lot of identifying information on the defendant’s car, witnesses may have. If others witnessed the accident or saw the driver leave the scene, it is important to speak with them to get any information they may have. Get their names and any contact information they will provide to you. Also make sure you let the police know of any witnesses so that they can be included in the police report.
Even if the at-fault party is not identified, all is not lost. You still may be able to make a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is there is protect you when there is no liability insurance available to compensate you for the injuries you have sustained. Hit and run cases are often highly disputed and it is always advisable to hire an experienced car wreck attorney if you are involved in one. A personal injury attorney will be able to identify any available insurance policies, evaluate your claim, and guide you through the complexities of a car accident case.
Our Attorneys Are Available 24/7 for a Free Consultation
What should I do after an accident? What if the person who hit me drove away? These are natural questions following a car accident. How to handle a hit and run accident can depend on the circumstances. On behalf of victims in Memphis and elsewhere, our car accident attorneys look to all available evidence in an effort to locate the hit and run driver and his or her insurance company. To learn more about your rights following a motor vehicle accident, contact our firm at 800-529-4004 or through our online form. We are a large regional personal injury law firm, serving all of Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky, including communities like Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Jackson, Tupelo, Oxford, Grenada, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Fayetteville, Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, Caruthersville, and Paducah.