Any St. Petersburg resident who’s been involved in a hit and run accident can attest to how scary and frustrating the situation can be – and especially the aftermath. Even if you’re not injured, chances are you’re still pretty shaken up. The situation becomes even worse, however, once you realize that the other driver didn’t even bother to stop, instead fleeing the scene and leaving you with a bunch of unanswered questions and whole lot of grief.
What to do immediately afterward
First things first – do NOT morph into superhero mode and go chasing after the driver who hit you. You need to stay at the scene and stay calm, which is probably the last thing you want to hear. However, staying calm will allow you to think more clearly, make better decisions, and most importantly, focus on gathering whatever information you can. This information can be crucial in helping the police catch whoever hit you, as well as aiding insurance proceedings or lawsuits later on. At a minimum, try to get the following if you are involved in a hit and run accident:
• Car make and model
• License plate number
• A description of the driver
If there were any witnesses who saw what happened, take the time to speak with them and get their version of what happened as well. They may have picked up on details that you didn’t from the hit and run accident, and their account will help corroborate yours.
Finally, take note of your exact location and the time the hit and run occurred. If the accident happened while you were parked and away from your car, determine an approximate time. Write all of this information down, and take pictures of the location and the damage done to your vehicle. If there is another car’s paint visible on your vehicle, be sure to get a close-up shot of that as well.
Call the police
After you’ve gathered as much information as possible, contact the police and file a report. This will result in an official record of the event, which can be useful when dealing with insurance or attorneys down the road. Give the police all the information you’ve gathered, along with any photos you took. Also, be sure to let them know if there were any witnesses who saw what happened so the responding officers can talk with them and get their contact information.
Contacting your insurance company
It’s kind of a no-brainer, but it still needs to be said. Call your insurance company as soon as you’ve finished up with the police report, as they’ll be closely involved until the matter is resolved. Give them all the information you gave to the police, and check your coverage to see if it includes anything on hit and runs or uninsured motorists. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about anything you don’t understand, and keep in mind that YOU are the victim and are entitled to compensation.
Filing a claim
If there was damage to your vehicle or you sustained any injuries during the hit and run, chances are you’ll file a claim to recoup some of the expense in dealing with either or both of these. If the police find who hit you, you can file a claim against their insurance company, assuming they are insured. However, if they aren’t insured or if the cops never nab the hit and run driver, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company, depending on your coverage. Another option is to work with a Saint Petersburg personal injury attorney, who can guide you through the complicated process of recovering lost expenses in a hit and run.