Why and How to Protect Yourself In Hit and Run Accidents - By West Covina Personal Injury Lawyer, Lem Garcia
Hit and run accidents are becoming increasingly popular in California, especially Los Angeles. It has been reported that in Los Angeles nearly half of all car accidents involve a hit and run driver. This means that if you are involved in a car accident, there is almost a 50% chance that if you don't flee the scene, the other person will.
Who are these people and why don't they stop and take responsibility for their actions? I don't know they are but I can assure you that they are irresponsible and morally reprehensible. It is the duty of all drivers involved in a car accident to pull over as soon as possible, make sure that everyone involved is OK, and exchange information.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER A HIT AND RUN ACCIDENT
If you or someone you care about has becomes a victim of a hit and run accident, here are a few things you can do to minimize your losses and try to hold the other driver responsible for their actions.
If you want to hold the other driver accountable for their actions, you first have to find out who the person is. The best way to do this is to write down as much information as possible and take as many pictures of the accident as possible. The information you should try collect is the license plate number (even a partially), the state the license plate was issued, the make, model and color of the car, any identifying marks on the car (stickers or dents), and a description of the other driver (gender, race, height, weight, etc.).
If there are any witnesses who saw the accident, get their name and contact information as well. I have had clients who have chased the other driver to make sure that the other driver will be held accountable. While this can be the most effective way of gathering the information you need, it can also prove to be dangerous and even fatal.
CALL THE POLICE
As soon as you can, call the police with all of the information that you gathered so that they can make a police report and look for the hit and run driver.
CALL YOUR INSURANCE CARRIER
Make sure to let your insurance carrier know that you have been involved in a hit and run car accident. They will ask you a lot of questions, so make sure you have the information you gathered ready. Keep in mind that they are also asking you questions to make sure that you were actually involved in a hit and run accident. Insurance companies are skeptical and are always on the lookout for fraudulent claims.
WILL MY INSURANCE CARRIER COVER HIT AND RUN DAMAGES?
Maybe. This depends on what type of insurance coverage you have and the terms of your policy. Your collision coverage most likely covers damage to your vehicle if you hit something (another car, a person, a traffic sign, etc.). Your comprehensive coverage most likely covers other types of losses such as vandalism, theft, and losses due to the weather. In a hit and run accident, your collision coverage will likely provide coverage for the damage to your car, but you will have to pay your deductible.
If you were injured in a hit and run accident, and you want to recover for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, you will need to have uninsured motorist coverage (UM). If you don't know what your policy includes, this is a good time to check if you have UM coverage. "Full coverage" does not necessarily include UM coverage. UM coverage is relatively inexpensive for the benefit you receive and could prove to be extremely helpful in the future. After all, almost 50% of car accidents in Los Angeles involve a hit and run driver.
CALL AN ATTORNEY
A lot of people don't want to get an attorney involved after they have been in a car accident because they "don't want to be like that" or because they think their claim will get processed faster if they handle it themselves. Insurance companies (even your own) love this and will try to take advantage of you at every turn. Insurance adjusters are highly trained to provide you the least amount of coverage and to minimize the value of your claim. I advise that you talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights and the value of your claim. Don't wait, it could truly jeopardize your case.