Being involved in a hit and run accident can be scary. Not only do you have to contend with any medical bills or property damage, you also need to figure out how to deal with your insurance company in the hope that your insurance will cover your losses. Here’s what to do when you’re the victim of a hit and run accident:
1. Keep a Level Head
The immediate aftermath of an accident usually brings stress and intense emotion, but resist the urge to panic. It’s essential to remain calm so that you can gather as much information as possible. The more information you have, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to catch the perpetrator and file a claim with their insurance company. If you can, try to get the following information:
- The vehicle’s license plate number, or
- A description of the driver or the vehicle, including make, model, color, etc.
2. Talk to Witnesses
Since you can’t gather information from the other driver, your next line of defense will be talking to witnesses. Witness statements will help your insurance company justify a claim under your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy. Get names, numbers, emails, or any other contact information from witnesses, so you can forward the information to your insurance company.
It’s also a good idea to call the police so an officer can file an official report. Keep in mind, however, that some jurisdictions will only send a police officer to the scene of an accident if someone reports an injury. If you can only report property damage, you may have to go down to the precinct yourself and ask to file a report. This step can also make your insurance claim easier.
3. Gather Evidence
The police report will be important evidence for your insurance claim, but so will anything else you can attach to it. Take advantage of mobile technology and take plenty of pictures of the accident, from your injuries, to the property damage and the surrounding landmarks. Ask to add these images to the official police record, if possible.
4. Call Your Insurance Company
Your next step, if police cannot locate the other driver, will be for you to file an insurance claim under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. California law requires that each motorist carry a certain amount of uninsured motorist coverage, but you may have more, depending on the specifics of your policy. This coverage may pay for some or all of your property damage or lost wages. For more information about your exact level of coverage, talk to your insurance provider.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to catch a hit and run driver without a license plate number. Your uninsured motorist coverage will compensate for your damages in accordance with your policy, but you will still be responsible for any deductibles. Remaining calm, gathering as much information as you can, and working with your insurance company are your best options. By following these guidelines, you can streamline the claims process and increase your chances of catching the at-fault driver.