You spend a relaxing day at the beach or at the mall and when you return to your vehicle you discover disaster. Your parked car was hit, and the person responsible is nowhere to be found. The law requires drivers in such a situation to take reasonable means to identify the owner of the parked car and leave a written notice with contact information. Unfortunately, few drivers in the modern day follow these laws, and it can be difficult or impossible to identify the offender. It’s important to know what to do in this situation so you can have the best possible outcome.
Detective on the Scene
While the offender who hit your car is nowhere to be found, there may still be a lot of evidence you can collect from the scene. Being diligent at this early point can make your insurance claim easier and may even lead to identifying the offender. You should first try to identify any witnesses who may be able to identify the offender or describe what happened. Be sure to take down their names and numbers for insurance purposes. If your car is in a parking lot, you may be able to access a security camera. Always check with the local business to see if there is real footage of your accident.
You should then document the scene yourself. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and its surroundings. Make a thorough check of your vehicle to be sure you have identified all the damage. If your car was hit with sufficient force, it may have been pushed into other objects or cars. Document any damage related to the accident, including damage to other vehicles or objects your car hit.
If the damage is so serious your car is no longer usable, you may need to call the police, roadside assistance and your insurance company right on the spot. If you find anyone injured or evidence that someone was injured, like blood, then you are obligated to the call the police.
Under most circumstances, your damages will still be covered by insurance. If you are eventually able to identify the offender, you can file a third-party claim against their insurance company. Often, your own insurance will do this for you as part of their claims process, or they will at least help you with it. If the offender is never identified, then you have little choice but to fix the damages yourself or file a claim with your own insurance company.
There are situations where you may need or benefit from a vehicle accident lawyer, even for a hit-and-run accident. Keep in mind that insurance companies, and that includes your own insurance company, don’t want to pay more than they have to for claims. Often the most difficult part of a car accident is dealing with insurance companies and negotiating a fair offer. The claims process can also be especially tedious and complicated so that drivers inadvertently don’t get as much compensation as they could. Filing these forms completely and correctly and guiding you through the claims processes is one way an attorney from a firm like The Law Offices of Gregg Durlofsky may help.
There is a specific part of your policy intended for hit-and-run accidents. It is usually referred to as uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage. Basically, it is the part of your policy that kicks in to protect you in case an accident is not your fault, but the other driver doesn’t have coverage or cannot be identified. In some states this coverage is mandatory, and in other states it is optional. You may want to check with your insurance company to be sure you have this coverage. Keep in mind that other types of self-coverage, such as collision, may not work in this situation, but you can ask your insurance carrier.
By being diligent in your investigation and knowing the ins and outs of filing a proper insurance claim, you can be protected from hit-and-run accidents. While these kinds of accidents can be difficult and more complicated, it is usually possible to get through the incident with minimal financial loss.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. You can find Dixie on Facebook.