A hit-and-run accident can leave you injured, scared, and emotionally devastated. The important thing for hit and run victims to remember is that there is a procedure they can follow. If they can remain composed enough to contact the police and initiate the process of investigating their crash, they can have a greater chance of the suspect being apprehended.
Hit-and-run injury victims also have the opportunity to file a personal injury claim even if the fleeing driver is never brought to justice. Their options include filing on their collision insurance, their uninsured motorist coverage, their personal injury protection (PIP) policy, or their own medical insurance. A West Palm Beach auto accident attorney can assist victims with filing these claims or potentially bringing a lawsuit against any liable parties.
In Florida, these types of accidents are all too common. Despite the fact that Florida laws require every vehicle to stop and at very least provide contact information after an accident, there were more than 98,000 hit-and-run accidents in Florida in 2017 alone. Roughly 1 in 4 accidents involves a fleeing perpetrator, and many victims are pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable travelers.
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident in West Palm Beach or anywhere else, you can follow the steps below to give yourself the greatest chance of recovering physically and financially after your crash.
You should call 911 and request emergency services as soon as you can, but first you need to know how many people are injured and what sorts of injuries they might have. That way, those who have serious injuries can receive an ambulance and emergency medical attention, increasing the chances of full medical recovery and potentially even saving lives.
While it may leave you with a sinking feeling to see the other party drive off, focus your attention on calling 911 and taking reasonable steps to help anyone with serious injuries.
If you happen to be seriously injured as a result of a hit-and-run accident, do not attempt to move or take drastic actions. Use your cell phone if you can reach it without exerting yourself. Call out for help if you cannot reach your phone.
Following a hit-and-run driver is always a bad idea. Even if your car still works well enough to drive, you may be ignoring major injuries or creating conditions that can lead to another bad crash.
Furthermore, anyone willing to flee a crash scene is in a panicked state of mind and likely to react even more erratically if followed. Leaving the scene also makes it harder for the police to sort out what happened – meaning it might be you who gets charged with hit-and-run.
The single most important thing to notice about another car in an accident is the license plate. Even with no other identifying characteristics, police can often use a license plate to find a vehicle or identify the owner through registration.
Always look at the license plate of a vehicle immediately after getting into a car accident. If the car starts to speed away, look at the license plate and say it out loud, over and over, until you can write it down. In a pinch, even a partial license plate is useful.
If the car had no visible license plate or you didn’t get a chance to see it, other factors can also be helpful. Note the color, any distinguishing features like headlamp shape, the direction the vehicle sped off in, and the make and model of the car if you recognize it.
Even “a white pickup truck” or “a blue sports car” is useful. If you had a chance to see the driver, note their physical description, as well.
Two heads are usually better than one, especially in a hectic situation where you might not have retained all of the important details. Other people near the scene of the accident might be able to recall these details more clearly, or they can provide information to fill in the gaps in your own narrative.
Witnesses are always important to car accident cases, but in a hit-and-run injury claim they become even more so. Talk to witnesses, ask what they know, take down their contact information, and ask them to wait for police to arrive so they can make an official statement.
The average injury claim after a car accident totals over $15,000. Injury victims are often left with substantial medical bills and other damages. Without a personal injury claim against insurers or a lawsuit against allegedly liable parties, injury victims may be strapped with debt for decades.
Know that you have the right to file a personal injury claim against the liability insurance of any drivers determined to be at fault. Fleeing the scene can provide further evidence of their fault. If no perpetrator can be located, you may be eligible for a claim against your own collision insurance, uninsured motorist coverage, or personal injury protection (PIP) policy.
The West Palm Beach auto accident attorneys at Steinger, Greene & Feiner have been representing car crash injury victims for years, and we have a history of successfully obtaining settlements or court-ordered awards that can help victims recover financially.
If you have been hurt in a hit-and-run, don’t neglect your opportunity to seek fair compensation for all of your damages. These damages can include medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and compensation for permanent scarring, disfigurement, or disability.
Receive your free case evaluation when you contact us online or by phone today. Every second counts, so reach out now!