A hit and run accident is something that no one should go through, nor something that anyone would ever want to go through. Sadly, it is something that is a lot more difficult to anticipate, and no matter how prepared you may be, the risk is always going to be there. If you do get involved in a hit and run accident, there are key things that you need to do in order to ensure that your health and safety are protected, but that you are also able to seek compensation for the person who hit you and fled from the scene.
Necessary steps to take following a hit and run accident
The absolute first thing you should do following a hit and run accident is to contact 911. Even if you do not think that you have been injured in the accident, there may be something wrong with you that you cannot properly discern and may create problems for you if you allow it to go untreated. Once 911 has been called, assess yourself, and attempt to extricate yourself from anything that may worsen any injuries that you may have already sustained. If there was anyone else involved in the accident, either people in your vehicle or people outside of it, make sure to check on them if you are able. If there are any witnesses around, it is valuable to gather statements from them if possible.
Due to the way memory works, the longer you take to get these statements, the more likely it is that the statements will become less accurate than they were in the moment. You are advised to, again, if possible, get both recorded and written statements from the witnesses, if only because such diligence makes your case that much stronger as a result. These people may be able to provide better information, such as identifying the make and model of a vehicle, or even the license plate, helping to identify the person behind the wheel. You should also ask the witnesses for their contact details, such that, if need be, you can contact them at a later date. Some witnesses may very well completely disappear if you do not make the effort to seek them out, and that could be detrimental to proving your case in court. It can be somewhat tricky, since one of the parties involved — perhaps the most important party to the incident — is absent and makes it that much harder to solve this “puzzle” as a result. Witnesses may be especially valuable for your case if the hit and run incident involved your vehicle while you were not in it, meaning that they may be the only people who could tell you anything about the incident and the person or persons involved in it.
It is also valuable for you to collect your own evidence, no matter how big or small. Take photos of any damages to you or your vehicle. Even something as simple as paint left behind by the other vehicle on your own goes a long way to help police figure out who was behind the wheel of the vehicle that hit you. Taking photos of your injuries also helps to demonstrate the merit of any claims you may make against the person responsible, assuming you are able to track them down. You should also get in contact with your insurance agency to make a claim as soon as possible. Be sure to also take down the date, time, location, and the circumstances surrounding the accident.
Once the police and emergency medical service workers arrive on the scene, be sure to cooperate with them the best you can. Answer all of their questions to the best of your ability, and do not leave anything out. No matter how trivial a detail you may find something, the police may deem it to be fairly significant. Sometimes, the tiniest detail may be one of the biggest clues to figuring out who was responsible for the hit and run accident. However, it is important to be mindful of how you communicate information to the police, as there still exists the risk that the police may interpret a fact about the case to be disadvantageous to your case. For instance, be sure to leave out any details of your behavior, such as if you were distracted, or if you may have had any involvement in the accident occurring. The other party will still be pursued by the police by virtue of having left the scene of the crime in the first place, but you do not want to imply to the police that you have any shared liability for it happening with this person. This process may take some time depending on the injuries you may have, as the first thing you should do is have your injuries treated. The longer you wait to have your injuries treated, the more likely it is that your injuries will worsen in the end. Once you have received the necessary treatment, then you can get in contact with the police to share your story.
When you do actually find yourself involved in a hit and run incident, having someone in your corner to pursue the case and represent your interests is vital. That is why you should procure the services of a trusted and experienced New York hit-and-run accident attorney. Not only will they do all of the annoying work that has to be done with a case filed against the person who hit your vehicle and fled from the scene, but they are also a valuable asset in the steps leading up to finding that person. There is no one person with a greater impetus to pursue the identity of this person and greater tools with which to pursue them than a lawyer you have retained. No matter how strong a case you may think you have, arguing on your own behalf in court may prove to be rather risky. It is not a guaranteed loss, much like how having a lawyer is not a guaranteed win, but it severely alters the odds in your favor. And when dealing with someone in a court of law, especially when it involves damages to you and/or your vehicle, it is something you want to be done quickly and correctly. After all, the last thing you want to do is go into a court of law half-cocked and mess up the case for yourself. Even the strongest case can be thrown out if you do not go in with the strongest advocate.