Any vehicular collision can be disastrous, but the issues following a hit and run accident are often particularly stressful. Even the safest of drivers can fall victim to these incidents, and when they occur, it’s important to know how to respond. Understanding the following information about these crashes – along with whether you need a hit and run lawyer – might lessen the burden you face.
Hit and Run Accidents on the Rise
Even with harsh laws on the books, hit and run accidents continue to increase. Committing a hit and run in Cleveland, OH, for example, can result in $1,000 in fines and six months in jail. These penalties increase exponentially if there’s an injury or death. Even with this being the case, Ohio experienced its highest number of hit and run fatalities ever in 2016 (i.e. 61 deaths).
The Buckeye State isn’t alone in these alarming statistics. Hit and run deaths spiked 60 percent nationally between 2006 and 2016. The highest death rate occurred in 2016 with 2,049 American deaths. On average, there are 682,000 hit and run accidents yearly. Considering the way these statistics are trending, it’s important to know how to respond to such an incident.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
A parked car hit and run accident is the easiest to handle. If you experience this form of collision on the highway, though, you need to pull over immediately and take the following steps. You should never attempt to follow a fleeing vehicle. Doing so could put your safety in further danger.
- Write down the driver’s license plate number.
- Get contact information of any nearby witnesses.
- Contact and report incident to police.
- Take pictures of damage to your vehicle and the scene.
- Seek medical help if necessary.
- Complete an accident report.
One of the unfortunate consequences of a hit and run is that insurance companies are often hesitant to pay. They’re typically only on the hook when their drivers cause an accident, but this changes when someone flees the scene. This likely means your next step should be contacting a hit and run accident lawyer.
Do I Need a Hit and Run Lawyer?
While every legal situation is unique, speaking with a hit and run attorney will often be your best course of action. These are very complex cases that can involve criminal charges in addition to civil penalties. Simply consider the following:
- Your insurer may not feel responsible if you didn’t cause an accident.
- If injured, you could end up dealing with several insurance companies (e.g. car, medical, etc.).
- You may be able to get compensation even if the driver isn’t found criminally liable.
- Injuries could result in long-term costs in addition to immediate medical bills.
- Your insurer may act in bad faith. This can result in additional compensation.
- Some hit and run attorneys charge no fees unless you win your case.
Some people avoid seeking legal aid because they think it will be costly. Many insurance adjusters base their initial offers partially on this fact. Considering the costs of not being fully compensated – and the fact that some attorneys don’t collect fees unless you win your case – the truth is that you can’t afford not to be represented by a lawyer.
Even if you believe you caused an accident, you may not be at fault if someone flees. Contact the hit and run accident lawyers at Friedman, Domiano & Smith today for a free consultation.