What do I do after a hit-and-run car crash?

Hit-and-Run Car Crashes

Way too often, I talk to people injured in a hit-and-run car crash .There are always more questions than answers after a hit-and-run. When a driver flees the scene, it makes a bad situation far worse. There are some steps you can take at the scene depending on how badly you are hurt. The most common questions asked of me regard compensation for property and bodily injury.

Being involved in a car crash is traumatic, but then you have to worry about the other driver leaving? It’s beyond frustrating. First, call 911 immediately and provide as much information about the car and driver. The sooner you call the authorities, the better. Reports that are called in hours or days later are very hard for police to track down. Tag numbers are always helpful if you can see the tags. This information can assist police in actually finding the driver. Second, while at the scene take down any witness names and phone numbers. I have found that witnesses are usually more than happy to give a statement and description if you get their name and number at the scene involving a fleeing driver. Witnesses may come forward after a hit-and-run as they realize the injustice. Third, take some quick photos of your car at the scene if you are physically able. Stay there until the police show up and if you are hurt, take the ambulance to the emergency room.

The worst thing you can do is fail to report the crash immediately to authorities. Lastly, call an attorney. If you are hurt, you will need an attorney.

Avoid Being at Other People’s Mercy

None of us like to be at the mercy of other people. We have to engage in some trust to drive on the roadways with other people. While I very much like to believe in the best of people, people always surprise me in their bad behavior as well as their sometimes astounding good behavior.

When you live in a very populated area like St. Louis, the probability of a hit-and-run crash increases. Also in a heavy populated area, the frequency with which people drive without auto insurance may become more obvious due to the increased number of crashes. Heavier traffic and sheer number of cars raise the likelihood of a crash, however, that is not to say that fleeing drivers don’t occur in rural areas as well. Likewise, drivers driving without insurance are not necessarily more common in urban areas than rural. Fleeing a scene is not the same thing as driving without insurance, however, your claims as an injured driver are somewhat similar. We know we cannot control the behavior of others, so how do you prepare for the unfortunate experience of someone who is uninsured or who flees the scene and is never found? The law requires that you buy insurance so why shouldn’t everyone else be required to do the same? They are required to do so and it is illegal to operate a vehicle that is not insured. When you are hit by an uninsured driver or a driver who flees the scene, you have what we call an uninsured motorist claim. The only way to truly protect yourself is through coverage of your own.

You are required by law to insure your vehicle. However, when you are buying insurance, you have to think about the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario is that you are in a crash that is not your fault and the other driver only has the minimum ($25,000 in Missouri) or no insurance. When a driver flees the scene, it may not mean that they do not have insurance even though that is often the case. If the at-fault driver is not insured or cannot be found due to a hit-and-run, then you cannot make a claim against their insurance as it is unidentifiable. Thus, you have to be sure that you are adequately insured. Insurance companies may sell you a policy called “full coverage” but that term can mean many, many different things.

It is frequently hard to get an insurance company to pay when there is coverage, and it is extremely frustrating to know that there are motorists who simply don’t follow the rules. It is illegal to drive a car without insurance or drive without a license. Illegal drivers do not usually get away with it for long, but that is little consolation if you’ve been hit by one of these drivers. Granted, fleeing the scene and being uninsured are not mutually exclusive and a driver may flee even though they are insured for a variety of bad reasons.

How Do I Know if I Have the Right Coverage?

The misunderstanding of “full coverage” happens to many folks regardless of age, education, or wealth. “Full coverage” can mean a lot of different things and may not include the coverage you really need. You’re the one buying the insurance so you ought to know what you are buying! Often people don’t really look at the coverage and categories, they just know that if they crash their car the auto insurance company will pay off their lien. But, shouldn’t we be asking a bit more of the insurance coverage especially when we are legally required to purchase it?

Uninsured Motorists- this is coverage that takes care of you if the person that hits you does NOT have insurance. When the fleeing driver cannot be found or if a driver does not have insurance, then your uninsured motorist coverage goes into effect. Many people I talk to have no idea what kind of policy limits they have as they just purchased “full coverage”. Fortunately, an attorney can request your policy coverage.

Underinsured Motorists Insurance– this coverage is crucial. For example, if the person that runs a red light and T-bones your car only has the minimum coverage ($25K) and you are hurt, then $25K does not really go too far if you have many medical bills. One surgery and you may surpass the $25K easily. So, when the other driver is what we call “underinsured” such as only liablity, then your underinsured motorist coverage may help a great deal. This can be really critical if you are seriously injured. Generally speaking, you will need an attorney go access coverage which in of itself is frustrating for most people.

The last thing I do is sell insurance. I’m rarely an advocate for auto insurance companies as I’m usually on the other side in court. However, I do know that if you are hurt in a crash, coverage makes the difference when it comes to gaining much needed compensation. I stress the importance of having the right coverage so that you do not feel like you are at the mercy of whoever hits you and whether or not they have the correct coverage.

What Can an Attorney Do for Me After a Car Crash?

Amazingly, there is quite a bit an attorney can do after any car crash if you are injured. If you are hurt, you do not want to rely on any auto insurance company looking out for you whether it is your insurance carrier or the other driver’s insurance company. If you are hurt, there will be many hurdles in making a claim to the insurance carrier so you absolutely DO NOT want to be sharing with the insurance adjuster on your own. Often, a person thinks if they are very detailed in sharing their medical progress with the insurance carrier, then they will treat you more seriously. Unfortunately, this is not the norm.

Reality-. If you are hurt, then it is a process. Injuries require time and treatment to recover. It is not a pleasant process and the unknown is quite unsettling. Don’t discuss your injuries with the insurance adjuster for only one reason—you usually don’t know the full extent of your injuries for some time and you certainly cannot predict the future when it comes to your healing.

Since it is a difficult process, having conversations about your health with a non-medical professional isn’t smart, thus don’t discuss with an insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters do not have medical training thus you should not be consulting them. Right away, your attorney communicates with the insurance company on your behalf to be sure and take all of that harassment out of your life. Insurance adjusters treat attorneys differently because they know that one, we know your rights and two, they know we are fighting on your behalf.

Bare Minimum-Consult an Attorney

Maybe you are not in ICU, but you require medical treatment beyond an initial ER visit. The feeling after a crash is the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. When you are hurt, your concern for the unknown is not a weakness as it is natural. It is difficult to plan around the complete unknown. No, we cannot answer the unknown, but we can help you prepare. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle crash of any kind, you should call an attorney and talk about your next steps. Arm yourself with information.

Call us toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.257.0214

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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