In California, it is against the law to leave the scene of a car accident without fulfilling a driver’s duties of care. These duties include stopping at the scene, swapping information with the other driver, and calling the police to report the accident, if applicable. To breach these duties is to commit the crime of a hit-and-run in California. If you have become the victim of a hit-and-run accident in El Cajon, take the following steps to file a claim for financial recovery.
Check for Injuries and Call 911
First, check yourself and anyone else at the scene of the accident for personal injuries. Move to a safe location, out of the street. Set up cones or flares if you have them available to you to help prevent further collisions. If you or someone else has any injuries, call 911 and request an ambulance. You should always call the police after a hit-and-run in California. The police can assess the situation, inspect the scene, and begin gathering any available evidence. Calling the police can help you prove to insurance companies that you did not cause the accident or injuries
Gather Information and Preserve Evidence
While still at the scene of the accident, gather information about the other party involved. You might not have the other driver available to exchange information, but you may still be able to ask eyewitnesses for a description of the vehicle, check surrounding video surveillance footage, and take photographs of the scene and your damages. Gathering evidence is especially important in hit-and-run cases since missing information from the runaway driver could hurt the claim. Get as much information as possible about the crash while still at the site.
Talk to Eyewitnesses
If you are physically able, speak to anyone else at the scene of the accident in case someone saw something that could help your case. An eyewitness may have a description of the perpetrator or his or her vehicle, or even license plate numbers. Get full names and contact information for each eyewitness. If someone is willing to make an official statement about the accident on your behalf, record this statement at the scene using your cellphone. You can typically count on law enforcement to speak to witnesses for you.
Go to the Hospital
Make your physical wellness top priority after a hit-and-run accident in California. Always seek immediate medical care after any type of collision, even if you do not think you have any injuries. The adrenaline from the accident may be concealing serious injuries such as dislocations, whiplash, or even traumatic brain injuries. Seeing a doctor and getting professional medical scans is the best way to reach a timely diagnosis and get the medical care you need for recovery.
File an Insurance Claim
Once you have received medical treatment and are in a place to make a phone call, contact your own auto insurance provider. Since the at-fault driver is not available to take responsibility for damages, your own insurance company may offer a settlement instead. This will be the case if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance as part of your policy. If not, your insurance company may not pay for your expenses. Your only option then may be to file a claim against a third party.
Hire a Hit and Run Lawyer in El Cajon Today
Navigating a hit-and-run accident claim can be difficult. Hiring a lawyer can help you understand your legal options and rights as a victim in California. A lawyer can revisit the scene of the accident, gather evidence, and help you build a personal injury lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver or a third party, such as the city of El Cajon for an unsafe roadway. Your attorney will negotiate your settlement against all available defendants while you focus on getting well after a serious crash.