What to do after a hit and run
Know the signs of what makes an accident a hit and run.
Auto accidents are stressful enough. Add the element of a hit and run, and it can leave you feeling completely helpless. What makes an accident a hit and run? In traffic laws, it's the act of someone knowingly causing an accident and then leaving the scene without providing any information about themselves or providing assistance to another. In most jurisdictions, it's a misdemeanor unless someone is injured. Then it could become a felony charge.
When one party in an accident flees, it's important to stay to talk to witnesses and the police.
As with any collision, you must carefully document hit and run accidents for your insurance company and the police. However, that can be a little tricky since one driver has taken off!
Here are some dos and don'ts for handling a hit and run
DON'T follow the fleeing driver. Leaving the scene of the accident could put you in a compromising position: You'll miss getting eyewitness accounts — and police could question who's really at fault. Not only that, you run the risk of getting into another accident, or putting yourself in a dangerous situation without knowing the demeanor of the other driver.
DO call 911 if you are in your car or someone is injured.
DON'T wait to call the police or your insurance company to file a police report or an accident claim. The official accident report will help police look for the missing driver and will be useful when you file your accident claim.
DO get as much information about the driver, car and accident as possible, including:
- License plate number,
- The other vehicle's make, model and color,
- Description of damage to the other vehicle,
- Which direction the other vehicle was headed,
- Photos of the damage to your vehicle, and
- Location, date, time and cause of the accident.
DO ask witnesses if they can supply additional information about the accident. If they give you or the police a statement, be sure to get their names and contact information. Witness information can be especially helpful if the hit and run occurred when you were not with your vehicle. Get more information about how to handle parking lot accidents.
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Does insurance cover a hit and run?
If you're involved in a hit and run, your auto policy may cover some expenses. It's important to note that coverages will vary by state. In addition, any deductible or policy limit you have chosen will apply.
Let's look at specific coverages.
- Collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it's been damaged in a collision with another object, or if it rolls over in an accident. So if you're a victim of a hit and run accident, you may be able to make a claim on your policy even if the other driver isn't found.
Remember you still have to pay your deductible even if the accident isn't your fault. If the other driver is found, you might be able to recover your deductible from their insurance company.
- Uninsured motor vehicle coverage helps pay medical expenses, lost wages or damages to your car (if applicable in your state) if the driver at fault for the accident doesn't have insurance or if the driver at fault for the accident remains unknown. This coverage isn't available in every state. According to the Insurance Information Institute, in some states where the coverage is available, hit and run accidents aren't always covered.
Your insurance agent is your best resource if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. For more information, read our tips on what to do after an accident.