Car accidents are always stressful. We do what we can to avoid them, but this isn’t always possible. And when we’re not at fault, there are only so many ways we can mitigate our risk.
Hit-and-runs are another beast entirely. They occur once per minute here in the U.S., according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Yikes.
When the at-fault driver leaves the scene, your and your fellow passengers’ safety is critical. Beyond that, it’s important to take the the following steps:
If the at-fault driver flees, try to gather as much information as possible on their appearance and vehicle. Take note of the make and model of the car, the driver’s identifying traits, and the license plate number if possible. Jot down the direction the driver fled in as well—and ask witnesses to share what they saw.
Did the accident result in injuries? Call 911 before you gather info on the accident. If everyone is in decent shape, you’ll want to call the police after you jot down the details. They’ll meet you at the scene, make a report, and talk to you about what you noticed before, during, and after the other driver fled.
File a claim.
Once you leave the scene, the next step is to connect with your auto insurer. Please note that you can only file a claim within 30 days of the car accident, and that there could be other parameters depending on your plan and provider. You may need to provide a copy of your police report as well.
Fleeing the scene of a car accident is illegal in most states. Even if you’re un- or underinsured, be sure to call the police and sit tight in the event of a car accident—regardless of who’s at fault.
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