Whether you're in a simple fender bender or full-on collision, there's an unspoken protocol for making things right. We all know what to do: Pull over; exchange insurance information; try to play it cool; and so on. But some people don't follow that protocol. You come out from the grocery store and find your mirror knocked off and crushed on the pavement -- without a note. Several state agencies and insurance providers have weighed in on the proper steps to ensure that claims and compensation for hit-and-run accidents go smoothly.
It is important to define several key terms of hit-and-run incidents. The Department of Motor Vehicles states that a "hit and run" is any accident in which one driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing pertinent information. Pertinent information includes the driver's phone number, the vehicle make, model, color and year and the specifics about the time and location of the crash. While courteous drivers will stop and provide this information, there is always a chance of the driver ditching the scene. In this case, Infinity Insurance recommends memorizing as many digits of the license plate as possible and then immediately writing down as much information as you can, once you have moved your vehicle to a safe position (usually the shoulder).
Many drivers may want to pursue the other vehicle and confront the driver: This is not only unsafe but also can negate any potential insurance compensation you could have received by staying at the scene for proper police documentation. Drivers who flee accidents do so because they are either uninsured or unlicensed. Never drive without your license and proof of insurance, or your financial responsibility for the accident could drastically increase.
State Farm recommends thoroughly documenting the specifics leading up to and following the crash, as well as trying to immediately talk to any eyewitnesses and obtain their contact information. Additionally, take photographs of any damage to your vehicle and any skid marks or damage to medians or barriers. These photographs will verify the claims of your case and might even ensure you receive fair compensation.
Once you have taken advantage of any eyewitness accounts and have all your pertinent information recorded, call your local or state police department. This way they can come to the scene, make sure you and your car are safe and not limiting traffic flow and start a search for a driver and vehicle meeting your descriptions. They can also contact local businesses that have security cameras that might have gotten footage of the accident.
Once the police have documented the case, it is advisable to call your insurance agency to file a hit-and-run claim. Almost all major agencies have a department for hit-and-run claims that will support you in finalizing your case. No matter the situation, hit-and-run accidents can be extremely confusing and frustrating. But with the proper attention and patience, you have a good chance of receiving compensation and seeing justice served.