5 important steps to take if you're a victim of a hit-and-run

Nothing is worse than a serious car accident - except when the other driver squeals away before you even realize what just happened.

Hit-and-runs are more common than you might think. In Los Angeles County alone, someone becomes a victim of a hit-and-run approximately once every 18 minutes, according to data from 2015. Even if you're fortunate enough to never have been involved in a hit-and-run, you should still know what to do in case it happens to you.

Follow these steps to avoid jeopardizing your rights:

  1. Call the police: It's a criminal offense in California to leave the scene of an accident involving property damage or injury, without providing all information on your driver's license and insurance information, regardless of who was at fault. By reporting the accident, you're not only creating valuable documentation that can help prove your claim later on, but you're also enlisting the resources of law enforcement to investigate the accident and hopefully hold the culprit accountable.
  2. Write down anything you remember: Memories fade quickly, and in the chaos after an accident, your attention will get pulled in many different directions. It's important to take a moment early on and try to remember anything you can about the other vehicle. Even if you didn't get a glimpse of the driver or license plate, information such as the vehicle type, color, make and condition can prove extremely useful.
  3. Take photos of the scene and the damages: If you are able to do so, capture as many detailed images as you can. Examining the photos later may reveal clues about the other driver. Photos can also help you in your accident claim.
  4. Get medical attention: Of course, this is your top priority after an accident. Even if you feel fine, the adrenaline and shock of the accident could be masking serious injuries. You also want to have a record documenting any injuries.
  5. Talk to an attorney: Hit-and-run cases are more complicated than other types of accidents. If the efforts of law enforcement and a private investigation prove fruitless, you may have insurance coverage through the uninsured motorist provision of your own insurance policy. The sooner you involve a knowledgeable lawyer, the better.

Getting into an accident is difficult enough. It's all the more stressful when the other driver tries to escape responsibility. By following these steps, however, you can maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

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