You’re sitting at a stop light or intersection when another vehicle slams into you. As frightening and shocking as that experience is, the driver then speeds away, literally adding insult to injury. Hit-and-run accidents are crimes in New York and leave victims bewildered and confused about what they can do to recover compensation for their injuries. These are the steps you should take after being in a hit-and-run accident.
Get immediate medical attention
Before worrying about anything else, make sure that you and the passengers in your vehicle get medical attention right away. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance, or at least visit an emergency room as soon as you are able. The earlier you take this step, the better. For one, seeing a doctor can help prevent relatively minor injuries from becoming more serious. Also, you may not even realize you were injured or you may incorrectly believe your injuries were minor.
Seeing a doctor soon after your accident is also essential to preserving your personal injury claim. The more time that passes between the accident and when you obtain medical attention, the easier it will be for either the defendant’s attorney (if the driver is found) or your insurance company (if you file a claim through your uninsured motorist or UM policy) to argue that something else caused your injuries or that you made them unnecessarily worse by delaying treatment. Don’t let this happen to you.
Make a police report
When you call 911 to report the accident, the police will come to the scene to take a report. Give as much detail as you can remember about the driver and the vehicle he or she was driving. The police report will contain valuable information about the accident such as date, time, location, and much more. When seeking compensation from the at-fault driver or your UM policy, this report will prove invaluable.
It should be noted that it’s never a good idea to try to find the hit-and-run driver yourself. The driver may have fled the accident scene because he or she was wanted by law enforcement, meaning the driver could be armed and dangerous. Give as much information as you can to the police, let them do their jobs, and follow up with them regularly.
Gather your own evidence
An attorney will help you build a case against either the at-fault driver or against your insurance company if it attempts to deny you coverage for the hit-and-run accident. But you can start collecting this evidence immediately after the crash. You can do so by:
- Taking pictures and recording a video of the accident scene, including the condition of your vehicle
- Speaking to any witnesses who observed the accident and getting their contact information
- Obtaining copies of your medical records and the police report
- Keeping copies of any correspondence with your insurance company
- Making notes of everything you can remember about the at-fault driver and the vehicle that fled
- Making notes about other details like how and why the accident happened and your conversations with your claims adjuster
Contact your insurance company
If the at-fault driver cannot be located, make use of your UM coverage by filing a claim through your insurance company. Our attorneys deal with these claims often and it is always better to let us do it than doing it yourself. Convincing your insurer to pay for your injuries is no simple task. Insurance companies care first and foremost about profits and have relatively little regard for the needs of their policyholders. You can be sure that your insurance company will use any excuse possible to deny or underpay your claim.
Hire a Queens hit-and-run accident attorney
For this reason, and to allow us to investigate your accident and try to locate the other driver, you should retain an experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer. We can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver if that individual is found. If not, we can assist with any issues you have convincing your insurance provider to fairly pay you through your UM policy. Let Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. assist with your hit-and-run accident today. Give us a call to get started.