What Should I Do after a Hit and Run Accident?April 14, 2022
A hit and run happens whenever an unidentified motorist causes a car accident. The accident might be with another vehicle or a pedestrian. If the driver flees the scene and remains unidentified, that accident is classified as a hit and run.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says the United States averages one hit and run accident every minute of every day. Drivers have many reasons for fleeing the scene of an accident, and none of them are legal.
Under the most innocent of circumstances, a motorist might not realize an accident happened. If another vehicle sustained only minor damage or the accident victim is a pedestrian, the motorist might not have noticed. The same might happen with a motorcycle that is brushed by a vehicle and crashes.
However, odds are a driver is aware of an accident and flees for other reasons. The vehicle might be stolen. The driver might have a suspended license or is driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The vehicle could be uninsured and the driver unlicensed.
No matter the reason, the result is the same. You suffer damages and possible personal injury. In addition, your auto insurance might not cover it.
Handling the Immediate Aftermath of a Hit and Run
If you are struck while driving, walking, or riding a bicycle and the offending vehicle speeds away from the accident scene, you should not give chase. The other driver already caused an accident and fled the scene. That makes that motorist potentially dangerous.
If the offending driver is speeding away, your best bet is to try to get a license plate number. If you can, the police can handle the search for its owner and driver.
You also need to remain at the accident scene and call the police right away. If you do not have a cellphone with you, find someone who does and will report the accident to the police.
You also might have suffered injuries. The only reason you should leave the accident site is if you need immediate emergency medical treatment and the ambulance arrives before the police. A police officer could obtain your statement at the emergency room.
Leaving the scene of an accident is against Maryland law even if you were the victim of the hit and run accident. If you left the scene and did not report the accident to the police within 24 hours, you could have between eight and 12 points added to your driving record. You also could be fined and possibly face jail time.
If the police do not show up for any reason, you need to contact them right away to report the accident. A phone call to the non-emergency line will at least record the date and time that you called. You likely would be referred to a police officer to whom the case is assigned.
If you need to get medical treatment and a police officer has not contacted you, you should contact the police right away. You want your side of the story to be known and included in a police report. That will help you when filing an insurance claim.
Helpful Information to Obtain
While waiting for the police to arrive at the accident scene, you should collect contact information from any witnesses who might be there. If there are any security cameras nearby, they might have recorded the accident. Noting their location might help an attorney or the police to obtain video evidence.
You could use a phone camera to photograph the scene and the damage to your vehicle. That also could record the driving conditions, such as the weather, road conditions, and amount of traffic.
If you got a look at the driver and any passengers, you could provide the police with a description. The same goes for the make, model, and color of the vehicle and its direction of travel.
When the police arrive, you need to tell them your side of the events. That will help to establish that you survived an accident that was caused by an unknown driver.
If you were to leave before the police arrive, the police could interpret that as fleeing the scene of an accident. Therefore, you have to ensure the local police know that you are the victim of an accident caused by a hit and run driver.
The police can focus their efforts on catching the offending motorist instead of blaming you. If they manage to find the car owner or offending driver, an auto insurer might pay for vehicle damage and bodily injuries up to policy limits. If the vehicle driven by the offending driver is insured, that insurance should pay.
Insurance Issues with Hit and Run Accidents
Hit and run accidents are potentially complicated when it comes to auto insurance. If you just have state minimum coverage on your vehicle and do not have collision insurance, your insurer will not cover the damages.
If you do have collision insurance, that could cover the costs to repair or replace the vehicle. However, you would have to pay the deductible amount that might apply.
You also might have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. A hit and run driver is considered to be an uninsured driver for the sake of insurance coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage could pay for the damages up to policy limits. Filing an auto insurance claim does not count against you when a hit and run driver causes the accident.
If your auto insurance policy includes medical costs, that could pay up to policy limits for treating injuries. Those limits usually are low on an auto insurance policy, so a health insurance policy would be your best bet for covering the medical costs.
If you suffered injuries and need medical treatment, your health insurance should cover that. Any deductibles, copays, or other medically related costs would not be covered.
Also, not covered would be any lost wages if you cannot work for a short time while recovering from your accident injuries.
Maryland Laws against Hit and Run Drivers
When a hit and run driver causes an accident, that is a criminal act. If someone suffers great bodily harm, it could be a felony.
Maryland law says it is a felony to leave the scene of an accident in which one or more people suffered serious injuries. The felony offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The penalty is even greater if one or more people die in a hit and run accident. The state will punish offenders with up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Offending Driver Might Blame You
If you initially file an insurance claim and contact the police about a hit and run accident, that might not end potential legal issues. An offending hit and run driver might contact the police the next day and claim you caused the accident.
The offending driver might act like a victim and claim to have been fearful and lie about the cause of the accident. Just about any story that even temporarily might put the blame on you could complicate matters greatly.
That is why it is very important to remain at the scene, call 911 right away, and get contact information from any witnesses. All the information that you collected could help to defeat any false claims by a hit and run driver.
It also would help greatly to obtain the services of an experienced car accident lawyer right away.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Hold Hit and Run Drivers Accountable
If you recently survived a hit and run accident and are unsure what to do, reach out to the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.