A hit-and-run is a terrifying crime to imagine yourself being a victim of. The thought of a vehicle running you over, then fleeing the scene, sounds like something out of a horror movie. To make matters worse, police are only able to solve approximately 10% of hit-and-run cases.
The thing is, many people aren’t prepared for what to do if they get hit as a pedestrian. Many report it to the police and leave it at that. A shame, considering a hit-and-run accident is much easier to pin on a perpetrator if you do things right.
In this guide, we will discuss what your options are if you find yourself as the victim of a hit-and-run.
After a hit-and-run, seek medical attention
Needless to say, your first priority is your own well-being. Before you consider anything else on this list, assess your injuries. It’s very rare to walk away from a collision with a vehicle and have not even a scratch.
Take note if you are bleeding, if you have any broken bones, or extreme pain of any kind. If you are able, call emergency services. If you aren’t, don’t exacerbate your injuries – allow someone else to make the call.
Getting hit by a vehicle is nothing to brush off. Every 75 minutes someone dies just crossing the road.
Injuries that you leave to treat later could very well get worse. The longer you wait, the higher the probability that you’ll suffer long-term consequences.
Rest assured, once you have seen a doctor, there will be plenty for you to do. For now, prioritize your overall health above legal concerns.
For evidence purposes
Another reason you should get immediate treatment is for legal reasons. The court and insurance companies will attempt to determine where you got your injuries from. For all they know, you could have suffered them while falling down the stairs.
Insurance companies, especially, will try to use this against you. They’ll try to reduce your payout, using legal precedent to do so. This could leave you with huge medical bills and years’ worth of debt.
Creating evidence of an injury
That’s why it’s so important to go to the doctor. When you visit your physician, you are creating a medical paper trail of the injury. Assuming it lines up with crash-related injuries, you have proof of the hit-and-run.
The sad reality is that many people will fake injuries. Without conclusive proof, you basically have nothing. Pre-existing conditions are often the basis on which insurance companies will deny treatment – accident claim or not.
Don’t follow the driver
It seems like the only logical conclusion after a hit-and-run. Follow the driver to see where they went–and who they are. This piece of advice is outdated and not recommended.
For starters, when you abandon the scene of the crime, you abandon potential short-term evidence. There may be eyewitnesses who can share their accounts. If you leave, they may leave the scene as well.
Plus, it weakens your case. The police may wonder why you did not remain and immediately call for help.
Last but not least, you do not know the driver. They could very well be crazy, violent, and even armed. An altercation with this individual could end very badly.
Add on the possibility of a felony charge, and you make them desperate. They may do something incredibly risky to avoid going to jail, such as harming you.
The same goes for any Good Samaritan who happens to be nearby in a vehicle. They should not attempt to follow. Allow law enforcement to pursue the suspect.
Call the police
Assuming you aren’t injured, or injured badly, call the police. It’s crucial that they get on the scene ASAP to get your statement. If there is any evidence left over, they will need to begin searching for it.
Time is short
This isn’t something that you should leave until the next day or next week. The more time that passes after a hit and run, the less likely you are to get justice.
This is especially important when interviewing witnesses. If anyone saw what happened, it’s imperative that they report their experience to the police. As time goes on, they may begin to forget or subconsciously alter details.
Your memory will be just as fragile as the people around you. More so, actually, because of how trauma can affect recollection. For this reason, you need to recall everything you possibly can about the accident.
Here are some helpful details that will assist the police in their investigation:
- What the vehicle looked like (make and model, type, size, color, and modifications)
- Where the vehicle hit you
- What identifying features the driver had (facial features, hair, skin colour, and clothing)
- How fast the driver was going when they hit you
- Any potential motive for the driver to hit you
- What direction the driver went after they hit you
- The license plate number (if you can remember it)
Before the police get there, write these things down. Make it easy on yourself by making a voice note of everything you remember with your phone. Keep this for your own future reference.
Be honest about your own actions
Make sure you tell the truth about the event; including your actions. For example, don’t omit the fact that you may have been jaywalking at the time. Even if the driver is in the wrong, your actions may have worsened the situation.
Contrary to popular belief, a hit-and-run is not usually a premeditated crime. It usually happens by accident. A driver mistakenly hits you, then flees the same out of fear of legal repercussions.
If you withhold this information until later, it could hurt your case. Lying to the authorities is never a good idea.
Collect what evidence you can
The police will gather their own evidence, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. In fact, that’s the first thing you should do. Ask the police officer in charge of your case to share whatever evidence they may have of the incident.
Again, assuming you aren’t injured, gather whatever evidence you can at the scene. For example, perhaps a driver captured the incident on their dash cam. Ask them to send you a copy for your own records.
In recent years, CCTV has been an excellent source of evidence for various crimes. Say for example you were walking by a restaurant when you were struck by a vehicle. The restaurant’s external CCTV cameras may have just recorded the whole thing from start to finish.
Ask other pedestrians nearby what they saw. People have smartphones, so it’s not uncommon for them to film crimes in progress. You may just stumble upon somebody who snapped a shot of the aftermath with their phone.
In some rare cases, the video a pedestrian took may appear on the Internet later on. Social media is one of the first places lawyers go to when investigating your case. Don’t discount a video uploaded to Instagram as evidence.
File a claim with your insurance company
Working with your insurance company will be the most aggravating part of this process. Insurance companies do everything they can not to cover their policyholders. Be prepared to get down and dirty to obtain what you need.
At this early point in the case, your purpose is the same as seeking medical help. Whether or not you reach a resolution, you need to start a paper trail. Making a claim when the accident is fresh puts a timestamp for later when you start an accident lawsuit.
Hire an accident lawyer
A pedestrian accident lawyer is non-negotiable for a hit-and-run. This is not your typical fender bender when two people can duke it out through their insurance companies. A hit-and-run is a felony crime.
This means that the person who did it will likely be serving some jail time. An accident lawsuit could pay out a pretty penny to handle medical expenses and trauma. All of that is much less likely if you go at it alone.
Not only is a lawyer more knowledgeable than you about these things, but they’ll also handle it for you. They’ll gather evidence and documentation. They’ll fight your case with insurance companies and before a judge.
Most importantly, they do so on a contingency basis. You won’t have to pay a single dollar unless they win your case for you.
Find a lawyer today
A hit-and-run can be a terrifying, devastating pedestrian accident even when it doesn’t injure you. Statistics suggest that chances are low that you’ll find the suspect and take them to court. However, with the above steps, you have a much higher chance of getting justice.
Robert Haynes , a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.