Victim of a Hit and Run Accident in California? What You Need to Know.
In California, a hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver leaves the scene of a car accident without providing contact information to the other driver involved and/or leaves the scene of a serious accident before the police arrive. This could involve a driver rear-ending the car in front of them and speeding away or a driver hitting a parked car and not leaving a note identifying themselves with contact information. Hit-and-run accidents are legally considered misdemeanors or felonies in California and have serious consequences for those who are caught. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, you may be scared and worried about what to do next. The following information will help guide you through this traumatic experience.
While at the scene of the accident, if you have been hit by a driver who fled the scene, try to move your car to a safe location and check yourself and others for injuries. Call emergency services to notify the police and first responders that a motor vehicle collision has taken place and let them know of any injuries. If you have been injured, even if it seems like a minor injury, seek medical treatment immediately. Even though many car accident injuries do not present symptoms right away, they are still incredibly serious. If you start to feel pain, headaches, swelling, or bruising a few hours to a few days after the incident, seek medical treatment and let your medical provider know you were in a car accident.
Next, if you are able to, try to write down as much information as possible about the accident, including any details you can remember about the vehicle that left the scene. This will be important when speaking to the police as well as when filing an insurance claim. Try to remember the make, model, and color of the car that hit you, including unique or identifying information about the car (bumper stickers, dents, vanity license plates, etc.). If you saw the driver, try to remember what they were wearing, their gender, hair color, etc. Also, write down the circumstances of the crash. Did the driver run a red light and hit you? Were you rear-ended? Did the driver that hit you change lanes and sideswipe your car? While documenting as much detail about the accident that you can remember, take pictures and video of the scene. There may be evidence of the vehicle that hit you on your car, including paint or broken off parts of the other vehicle. If there were any witnesses, it is a good idea to speak to them and ask for their contact information to help identify the person who fled the scene.
Following the car accident, you will need to inform your car insurance provider. They will then start to gather information about the collision from you, the police, your medical providers, and your car repair shop or dealership. All of this information will be needed to process your insurance claim. Hit-and-run accidents may be covered by uninsured motorist insurance and other liability insurance if another party is responsible for your injuries and is insured for automobile liability coverage. The sooner you submit a claim, though, the sooner your medical costs and other damages can be covered financially.
There are different types of car insurance available in California and depending on what your policy says, it may or may not cover all of the costs associated with a hit-and-run accident. Collision coverage will help cover damage to your car. If you or law enforcement are able to successfully identify the driver who fled the scene, you will likely be able to make a claim against their insurance. Or, if they are uninsured, you may file a claim with your uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage. Unfortunately, uninsured motorist coverage may be waived by the insured though required by California law, so you will need to review your insurance declarations to determine if you may have waived the coverage.
Hit-and-run accidents are difficult for victims who have to handle insurance claims while recovering from the injuries they suffered. Many hit and run accident victims seek legal advice from an attorney to help guide them through this difficult process. If the police are able to find the driver responsible for the hit and run, a personal injury attorney will be able to help you pursue a legal claim for compensation against their insurance company. If the hit and run driver is not found and you have filed a valid claim with your own insurance company, but they are being difficult, an experienced attorney can help. Many insurance companies, even your own, will not want to pay you fair compensation for your damages. Our experienced California car accident lawyers will ensure you receive what you deserve.