What to Do if the Other Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident
If you get into an accident and the other driver leaves the scene, the first thing you should do is ensure that you and your passengers are safe and call for medical assistance if needed. Then, you should call the police, document the scene, and notify your insurance of the situation.
After a hit-and-run accident, you may be left with injuries, vehicle damage, and emotional trauma, on top of the sense of injustice caused by the other driver. But in Arkansas and Tennessee, the law is clear: Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime.
Read on to learn the next steps to take — or, if you want an advocate by your side during this difficult time, reach out to our experienced team of car accident attorneys today and tell us your story. We offer a free case review, and we’re here to support you as you begin the journey toward healing.
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What to Do After the Other Driver Leaves the Scene
Getting into a hit-and-run accident can be a disorienting and stressful situation. However, there are steps you can take after the crash to protect your rights and safety.
Right after an accident, you should:
In the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident, it’s essential to remain as calm as possible. Take deep breaths to collect yourself and assess the situation. Do not leave the scene immediately. Instead, stay calm and take the following steps.
First and foremost, ensure your safety and the safety of passengers. If there are injuries, call for medical assistance immediately.
If you can do so safely, move your vehicle to the side of the road to prevent further accidents or blockages. Turn on hazard lights to warn other drivers.
Interview any witnesses. If possible, note the make, model, and license plate number of the fleeing vehicle, and any other details that might be helpful.
Use your phone or a camera to take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, road conditions, and any relevant road signs or signals.
Reporting to the Authorities
Reporting a hit-and-run accident to the authorities is a critical step in the process, even if the driver hit your parked car while you were away. It not only ensures your safety but also aids in the legal investigation. Dial 911 or the non-emergency number to report the accident. Provide your location and a brief description of what happened. Share all available information about the fleeing vehicle, including its appearance, license plate number, and distinctive features. This will help law enforcement find who’s responsible.
When the police arrive at the scene, provide a detailed statement of the events leading up to the accident. Be as accurate and honest as possible, and let them know if you have any witness information. Be sure to get a copy of the police report, which will be invaluable for insurance claims and any potential legal action.
Seeking Medical Attention
After a hit-and-run accident, seeking medical attention is crucial, even if you believe you have only minor injuries. Some injuries — even serious ones — may not cause symptoms immediately. A prompt medical evaluation can identify hidden injuries and ensure timely treatment.
Medical records also serve as essential documentation for any potential claims or lawsuits that arise from your accident. They establish a direct link between the collision and your injuries, which is a crucial step in building your case if you decide to sue.
After you see a doctor, it is essential to attend all follow-up appointments and adhere to the recommended treatment plan. This demonstrates your commitment to recovery and strengthens your case for compensation.
What Are the Consequences for Leaving the Car Accident Scene?
In Arkansas and Tennessee, if a driver is involved in an accident that results in injury or death, they are legally required to remain at the scene, provide necessary assistance to the injured, and report the accident to law enforcement.
When a driver leaves the scene of an accident, they could face:
Law enforcement will investigate the incident, and if the fleeing driver is identified, they may face criminal charges such as hit-and-run, reckless driving, and potentially even vehicular manslaughter if injuries or fatalities occur.
In addition to criminal charges, the fleeing driver can be held liable in a civil lawsuit for damages suffered by the victim. This includes a wide range of potential compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Leaving the scene of an accident can result in increased insurance premiums, policy cancellation, or difficulty obtaining car insurance in the future
Why Do Drivers Flee the Scene?
Despite these legal obligations and serious consequences, some drivers choose to leave the scene of an accident. There can be various reasons behind this decision, including:
- Fear of Legal Consequences: If a driver was already breaking the law by, for instance, drinking and driving, they may fear the legal repercussions of their actions and try to escape the situation.
- Panic: In some cases, individuals involved in accidents might panic due to the shock of the situation and make the impulsive decision to flee.
- No Insurance: Uninsured drivers might flee because they don’t have the financial means to pay for damages caused by the accident.
- Immigration Status: In cases where individuals fear immigration-related consequences, they may leave the scene to evade law enforcement.
The Role of Insurance in a Hit-and-Run
It isn’t easy to understand your insurance policy, its coverages, and how to navigate an insurance claim after a hit-and-run accident. Our team of lawyers is here to walk you through the basics.
Collision and Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If someone hits your car and drives off, you may need to turn to your car insurance policy to pay your bills. Collision and Uninsured Motorist coverage are two of the policies that can help.
- Collision Coverage. Collision coverage typically helps pay for repairs to your own vehicle, regardless of who is at fault. In a hit-and-run scenario, if the responsible driver is not found, your collision coverage can cover repairing your vehicle minus your deductible.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is designed to protect you when you’re involved in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance or cannot be identified. It can help cover medical expenses and damages to your vehicle. This coverage is especially important in hit-and-run accidents, where the offending driver often remains unidentified.
How to Communicate With Insurance After an Accident
Inform your insurance company about the accident immediately, even if the at-fault driver is unknown. Provide the necessary details, such as the official accident report and any evidence you gathered at the scene.
While interacting with insurance adjusters, be cautious about what you say. Stick to the facts and avoid speculating about the accident or admitting fault. Be sure to keep records of all communication with your insurance company, including dates, times, and the names of the people you spoke with. This documentation can be valuable if disputes arise later.
If you’re intimidated by the thought of dealing with the insurance company, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help. Our team at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton will guide you through the process, help you understand your rights, and ensure that the insurance company treats you fairly.
Is Insurance Responsible for Medical Bills?
In hit-and-run accidents where the driver remains unidentified or cannot be located, you may wonder who is responsible for paying medical bills. Your health insurance or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage can cover your medical bills. Uninsured Motorist Coverage, if you have it, may also help with medical expenses.
If you have Med Pay coverage, it can help with medical bills, regardless of fault. It is an optional coverage that can provide additional protection when someone hits your car and drives off.
Hit and Run Accident Frequently Asked Questions
First, you can pursue an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company. This coverage is specifically designed for scenarios where the responsible party is uninsured or unidentified.
Additionally, if you have personal injury protection (PIP) as part of your policy, it can help cover your medical expenses, regardless of fault. Seeking legal counsel, such as an experienced personal injury lawyer, is crucial to navigate these options effectively and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
An attorney is pivotal in a hit-and-run case with an unidentified driver. Having a lawyer by your side is instrumental in navigating the complexities of these cases. They can:
- Conduct investigations to identify the fleeing driver through available evidence.
- Negotiate with your insurance company to help you receive fair compensation.
- Pursue legal action against the unidentified driver if they are located in the future.
- Advocate for your rights and interests throughout the legal process, ensuring you are not taken advantage of by the insurance company.
Rainwater, Holt & Sexton: Your Ally in Hit-and-Run Cases
From our free case review to the final settlement, our car accident lawyers have one goal in mind: supporting you as you seek compensation. We approach each case with genuine empathy, ensuring that our clients receive not only top-notch legal representation but also the compassionate support they need during a difficult time.
With years of experience in personal injury law, our legal team possesses extensive knowledge of the laws governing hit-and-run accidents in Arkansas and Tennessee. Our success is not measured solely in terms of legal victories but also in the positive impact we have on our clients’ lives. We have a long history of securing fair compensation for hit-and-run victims to help them rebuild their lives, and we’d love to work with you.
Reach out to us today and tell us your story.
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