There was a story today in the news in Colorado about a hit and run accident, where a man riding on a scooter was killed when his scooter was clipped by a truck and then was hit by a second truck that fled the scene. See news clip at: www.9news.com. The driver of the truck that fled the scene was ultimately found and was arrested.
This is the second hit and run accident I’ve heard about in the past two weeks, and it makes me thoughtful about what people should do if they find themselves in such a situation. Being in a motor vehicle collision is traumatic enough for everyone involved when all the parties remain at the scene. However, when the at-fault driver leaves the scene without cooperating with an investigation or exchanging information, then a whole new level of problems can arise.
Leaving the scene of an accident before the police arrive, or before information has been exchanged, can raise lots of questions about the at-fault driver. Was the driver drinking or taking drugs? Did they have a valid driver’s license? Were they driving a stolen car? Did they have insurance? Who is going to pay for my medical bills? Who is going to help me get my car fixed? These are just some of the questions that arise.
Most of these questions can be answered and sorted out over time, but it does complicate matters when trying to establish a claim for injuries. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’ve been involved in a hit and run collision:
1. After the collision, if possible, try to remain calm enough to observe and write down the license plate number of the vehicle that hit you. (This is good to do even if the other driver does not leave the scene of the accident).
2. Try to get a good look at the driver of the vehicle, and the vehicle make, model, and color so that you can provide the police with a description.
3. Call the police.
4. Look to see if there are any witnesses around, if there are, try to talk to them as soon as possible and get their contact information so that the police can talk to them about what happened. Or, if you are unable to do this, tell the police when they arrive that there were witnesses to the collision, and hopefully the police will be able to locate the witnesses.
5. If you are able to provide the police with a license plate number and description of the vehicle and driver, there is a good chance the police will be able to locate the vehicle and driver and conduct a follow-up investigation.
6. Contact your insurance company and provide them with the other vehicle’s license plate number and description. They may be able to help with the investigation.
If the police and your insurance company are unable to figure out who else was involved in the collision, then it is likely that your own automobile insurance will be able to help you with medical bills and damges to your car if you have purchased separate uninsured motorist coverage (UM coverage). For all drivers, it is important to have UM coverage in case you are involved in a collision with an uninsured driver, or in hit and run situations, where you may not be able to identify and locate the other driver. This UM coverage may be the only coverage available to help compensate you for your injuries in such a situation. (For more information about UM coverage, please see our main website page on uninsured motorists.
Hit and run accidents can be very serious, and very traumatic. As with all motor vehicle collisions, it is important to have a plan before you are involved in one, so that you know what to do if the situation ever arises. Remaining calm and trying to gather and remember as much information as you can will assist the police and your insurance company in their investigation, and will help your claim in the long run. If you have more questions or need more information about this area, any of our attorneys at Bachus & Schanker, LLC are more than happy to answer your questions or talk to you about your situation.