Hit-and-run: What to do if it happens to you

You know all about traffic safety. You follow all the laws and regulations, never drink and drive and even put your cellphone in Do Not Disturb mode before climbing into your car. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are behind the wheel, you cannot control the behavior of other drivers on the roads.

All car crashes are upsetting, but perhaps worst of all is when you're the victim of a hit-and-run. Not only do you have to deal with the traumatic results and any damages and injuries, but you're left to handle the aftermath on your own when the other driver flees the scene of the accident after causing the collision in the first place. So is there anything you can do right after a hit-and-run to help you make the best of a bad situation?

Steps to take for victims

Accidents happen even to the best of drivers, but that doesn't make it any easier when it happens to you. When one does occur, you're likely to be confused, upset and scared. It can be difficult to know what to do when your heart is pounding and you're feeling overwhelmed. Planning what steps to take ahead of time may benefit you on the off-chance that you're ever involved in a hit-and-run, not only by helping you stay calm, but potentially even aiding you and the police in tracking down the perpetrator.

As such, gathering as much information as you can will be your best approach. Of course, the very first things you'll want to do include pulling over to a safe area — if you're struck while moving — and calling 9-1-1 if you even suspect that you or any of your passengers may be injured; health and safety are the number one priority in any situation. After that, you'll want to consider:

  • Calling the police immediately
  • Gathering evidence
  • Looking for witnesses
  • Contacting your insurance company

You never want to chase the culprit or attempt to apprehend the responsible party, as doing so not only potentially endangers you but also involves you leaving the scene of the accident, which is illegal. Once you're safely parked, contact the police right away, even if you don't have any evidence yet; failing to do so can make pursuing attempts for compensation — with both your insurance company and, should you choose, the legal system — infinitely more difficult, if not impossible. Next, you'll want to gather evidence.

It can be especially crucial to take photographs of damage to your vehicle from a variety of angles, in addition to pictures of the crash scene. You'll want to write down everything you can remember — including what happened and details about the make, model and license plate of the other car, if possible — and get the same information from any witnesses, if applicable, as well as their contact information. Witnesses are great for backing up your side of the story to police and your insurance company.

Other resources

There are any number of reasons another driver may flee the scene of a hit-and-run — from intoxication to lack of insurance to panic and more — but none of them are fair, especially if you or a loved one suffered serious injuries as a result. Luckily, if you live in the Baton Rouge area, there are Louisiana professionals with experience in pursuing just compensation in such cases, and if you followed the above steps, your chances of finding the responsible party and holding him or her accountable are much higher.

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Vincent J. DeSalvo, Attorney at Law
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Baton Rouge, LA 70809

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