One minute you were driving home from work, and the next you heard the sound of tires skidding and metal crumpling. You came to your senses just in time to see the driver who hit you speeding away.
You’re the victim of a hit and run car accident. Why would someone leave the scene of the accident, and what should you do?
Why Would A Driver Leave the Scene?
By Illinois law, all drivers involved in a car accident must stay at the scene. However, it doesn’t always work out that way. There are several reasons a driver might flee the scene:
- They are intoxicated
- They don’t have a driver’s license
- They don’t have insurance
- The car doesn’t belong to them
- The car contains stolen property or drugs
- The car is a company car, and the driver doesn’t want his company to find out there was an accident
- The driver has multiple traffic tickets and wants to avoid getting another
- The driver has an arrest warrant against him and doesn’t want to be caught by the police
What to Do
Remain Calm and Stay Put
Take a deep breath. If you are hurt, seek medical attention immediately. Check if other drivers and passengers involved in the accident are injured. Don’t move an injured person unless their safety is in jeopardy, but try to move vehicles off the road, out of traffic, if possible.
Remain at the scene of the accident and wait for the police to arrive. Whatever you do, do not chase the other driver. Catching the at-fault driver is a job best left for law enforcement.
Record Every Detail You Remember
The most important detail is the license plate number of the other car, even if you can only remember part of it. However, every detail helps.
What kind of car was it? Was the car a distinctive color? Was it speeding? What direction was it headed? Did it have any bumper stickers or visible damage? What state was the license plate from? Did you see the driver or any passengers? Can you describe their appearances?
Anything and everything that you can remember will help the police in their efforts to track down the driver who hit you.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you think you’re fine, never refuse medical attention after a car accident. Sometimes the stress of a car accident can mask injuries, which often arise a few days later. Should that happen, having medical documentation will help you prove that the injuries were caused by the accident.
If there were any eyewitnesses to the accident, talk to them. Record anything useful they might remember about the accident and take their contact information in case the police or your insurance company have additional questions.
Take pictures of your car and the accident scene. Make sure to get close-up shots of the damage to your vehicle, as well as any debris on the road. The police may be able to use paint scrapes to identify the other car.
Take as many photos as you can of your injuries, as well. These could be useful evidence in a personal injury lawsuit later on.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Finally, notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as you are able, even if you think you may be partially at fault.
What Happens Next?
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, so the police will make every effort to locate the guilty driver. If the driver is found, they will get a traffic ticket at the minimum. If their hit and run caused injuries or significant damage, they could face criminal charges.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the hit and run driver has insurance, their liability coverage should pay for the damage to your car and your injuries, up to their coverage limits. If the driver does not have insurance, or if your injuries are severe, you will have to file a personal injury lawsuit against them for the chance of recovering damages.
Get Help from Peoria Car Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, the last thing you should have to deal with is the headache that a hit and run driver leaves behind. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at Schierer & Ritchie can help you get the compensation you deserve, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries and moving on with your life. Please contact our offices today for a confidential and free consultation.