What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident

Under New York state law, you cannot simply drive off after being involved in a road accident. Any time a driver collides with an object, person, or vehicle and intentionally leaves without sharing their identity, providing their insurance information, and giving any warranted assistance, it’s considered a hit-and-run.

If you’ve been involved in an accident in which the other party fled the scene, there are steps you’ll need to take to protect your interests. We’ve covered them all in this guide.

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident

There are several actions you should take directly after someone hits you and flees the scene.

Call 911

Once you’re confident that you’re not in immediate danger, you need to contact the authorities.

Getting the police involved will help you in several ways. Firstly, fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime, and the police will want to start pursuing the at-fault driver as quickly as possible to maximize their chances of apprehending the individual.

Second, you will need a police report for any insurance claim you file. The police report will contain important information that will be helpful for your claim later on.

Finally, the police can secure the area and ensure that your accident doesn’t pose undue risk to other road users.

Document the Damage

You should take pictures and videos of the following:

  • Your vehicle at different angles
  • Any injuries you’ve sustained
  • Any marks on the road, particularly skid marks or anything else that will illustrate how the at-fault party caused the accident
  • Any evidence of bad road conditions, such as snow or ice
  • Any damage to road signs.

You should also make a note of any details you can about the fleeing driver and their car, such as:

  • A physical description of the driver and any passengers, including their gender, approximate age, facial hair, and any distinguishing characteristics.
  • Any erratic behavior you noticed. Drunkenness and drug use are among the common reasons why people flee the scene of accidents, and showing that the other party to your crash was impaired will make it easier to prove they were negligent.
  • The license plate number.
  • The make, model, color, and approximate age of the other car.
  • Any distinctive features of the other car, like stickers or decals.
  • The direction in which the other vehicle was traveling.
  • Any damage to the other car.
  • Any underlying causes of the accident (such as swerving or speeding by the other driver).

Although this information can be very useful, you should not guess about anything you don’t know for certain. Doing this will only impede the investigation.

Look for Witnesses and Security Cameras

Approach nearby businesses and residences to see if they might have CCTV footage of your accident. You will need to act quickly here, because some businesses and parking lots erase recordings every 24 hours.

Ask others in the area whether they saw the accident; if they did, ask them to write and sign an official statement, and to wait for the police if they have the time.

Call Your Insurance Company

You will need to start the claims process with your own insurance company as soon as possible after the accident so the events are fresh in your memory.

Hit-and-run accidents may or may not be covered under your policy; if you have uninsured motorist coverage, this will likely apply to hit-and-run crashes. Even if your policy doesn’t cover every loss you incur due to your accident, it may compensate you to some degree (for property damage or medical expenses, for example).

Contact a Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney

You should contact a lawyer to sue the other driver if the police find the individual. A lawsuit will allow you to recover damages for things like pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.

Non-Urgent Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run

Once you’ve taken care of the most pressing requirements facing you following your accident, there will be some lower-priority items to attend to as well. These include:

  • Documenting any conversations you have with your insurance company, the police, or anyone involved in fixing your car or finding the driver.
  • Following up on the claims process. You may need to make multiple calls over an extended period to ensure everything is taken care of.
  • Keeping a record of the facilities you visited for medical care after your accident, and the types of treatment you received. You should keep any documentation provided by these facilities.
  • Attending all follow-up medical appointments and following the recommendations of your doctors. The CDC warns that the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries can take days to become apparent, so it’s vital to go for all recommended assessments even if you feel fine.
  • Getting a copy of the police report when it’s finished and available. According to the New York State Police, most accident reports become available within 30 days of a crash.

What Not to Do After a Hit-and-Run

Now that you know what to do, you also need to know what to avoid doing.

Do NOT Follow the Fleeing Driver

Leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident is a bad idea, as you’ll technically be breaking the law yourself. Additionally, you may miss out on necessary medical treatment; you won’t be able to document the scene; and you might not get all the eyewitness accounts of what happened.

If you leave, the police might question whether you were the one at fault. You might also risk getting into another accident when pursuing the other party, or putting yourself in a dangerous situation with the other driver if you catch up with them.

Do NOT Wait to Call the Police

You’ll want to contact the police immediately so they can start investigating. Hit-and-run investigations are time-sensitive; waiting even an hour or two to call it in can ruin your chances of apprehending the at-fault party.

Do NOT Behave Angrily or Make Negative Comments

Though you may be angry, you should try your best to avoid expressing it at the scene of the crash. It won’t benefit you, and it may end up hurting your case, depending on what you say. You should also avoid saying anything that could suggest you were at fault, such as commenting about how you were in a hurry to get to your destination.

Contact Tucker Lawyers Today

If you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you should start working with a lawyer as soon as possible. Our skilled and experienced attorneys are among the best car accident lawyers in Manhattan. Contact us over the phone at (516) 399-2364 or reach out via our online contact form.

john tucker

Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.

John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]

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