Being involved in a car accident is terrifying enough, but when the other driver speeds away after the crash, you can be left in a state of utter confusion. What should you do when a negligent driver hits you and drives away?
Hit and Run Defined
It is important to understand that a hit and run accident doesn’t always involve you being behind the wheel. If you have ever found your car dinged, scratched, or otherwise damaged and with no note from the offender who caused the damage, then you have been a victim of hit and run. This term, recognized by the courts, is meant to encompass all cases of a person causing harm to a person or property and leaving the scene.
What Can You Do?
If your car was unattended in the parking lot, then you aren’t likely to find out who caused the damage, but you can ask others who may have been present and seen the accident. You can also ask the establishment if they have video surveillance of their parking lot.
If you were in the car at the time that it was hit, then try to think back and recall the make and model of the other vehicle. If you can catch a glimpse of the license plate upon seeing the person pull away, be sure to write it down before you forget. This is the best possible piece of information to be provided.
Be sure that you take pictures of any damage done, and file a police report providing as much information as possible about the incident. If you can collect contact information from witnesses, then you will be even better prepared. It is also important to mention the exact location, the time of the accident, and to describe the damage as thoroughly as possible.
Who Pays For the Damage?
In St. Petersburg, drivers are required to carry PIP insurance, which is Personal Injury Protection coverage that will pay medical expenses and lost wages associated with an auto accident. You may want to submit a claim with your insurance, if the police are unable to locate the negligent party.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance is another safety net for those impacted by hit and run accidents. This coverage is not mandatory in Saint Petersburg, but it is highly recommended, as it can cover a lot more of the damage done as a result of such an accident.
If the police are able to find the negligent driver, his or her insurance company will likely foot the bill. However, if this other person doesn’t have insurance or has too little insurance, you should speak to a personal injury attorney regarding your rights to seek legal action.
How Will It Impact Your Insurance?
Unfortunately, people who suffer as a result of hit and run accidents are often victims in more ways than one. When the negligent driver cannot be located, and claims must be made against the victim’s insurance policy, chances are good that future premiums will be more expensive. In fact, even if the other person is located, if he or she doesn’t have the insurance or the assets to cover the costs of the accident, then the victim may be forced to seek assistance from his or her PIP or Uninsured Motorist coverage anyway. If you are involved in such an incident, it is important to speak to a legal professional. He or she can provide an experienced opinion on the best course of action to be taken. Furthermore, he or she can help you get the biggest possible payout, to ensure that all associated expenses are covered.