Accidents don’t come with a warning. They happen by chance or are the result of someone else’s negligence or misconduct.
While some perpetrators accept their mistake, others flee the crime scene. The victims of hit-and-run accidents are often left with physical injuries, medical bills and vehicle damage. If the culprit’s identity is unknown, the victim may feel at a loss and not know what to do next.
In this post, we’ll discuss the steps you can take and how personal injury lawyers can help you get you the insurance or accident claim you deserve.
Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run Accident
A hit-and-run accident can be devastating, especially if it causes physical injury.
Here are steps you can take after such an incident to protect your rights.
Assess Your Injury
Stay calm and see if you’re injured. Road accidents can result in paralysis or death so attend to your injuries as soon as possible. Move slowly as you assess their severity. If you’re bleeding excessively or suspect that you have broken bones, call an ambulance immediately.
If you’re injured but somewhat stable, try to collect as much information about the accident as possible. Details like the time and location of the accident and the colour, make, model and license plate of the vehicle that hit you will increase your chances of tracking the accused. It’s also important to take pictures of the crime scene, your physical injuries and any damage to your car.
The more information you provide to the police, the better equipped they will be to identify and arrest the suspect.
Once you’re stable and have thoroughly assessed your injuries, try to gather as many witnesses as possible. Ask for their phone number and email so your lawyer or the police can contact them later.
Make a Report with the Police
Report the accident to the police, no matter the extent of your physical or vehicular damage.
It is illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada to leave the site of an accident in which you were directly or indirectly involved. The offender is also legally obliged to give their name, address, phone number and insurance details to those who sustained injuries in the accident. Police may use either the federal Criminal Code (“fail to stop”) or the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario (“fail to remain”) to detain a hit-and-run driver.
Provide the police with all the details of the incident, including the names and contact information of witnesses. This has the added advantage of likely hastening the claim process, even if the police fail to find the offender.
Inform Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company will ask you to submit the police report before they start working on your case. They are usually very cautious when it comes to hit-and-run accidents and they find out whether they are genuine or fraudulent.
Your insurance provider will assess and determine fault for the collision and advise the next steps regarding vehicle repair and replacement. You may be sent to a repair shop from which you should receive an assessment copy once the process is completed. A copy of this must be sent to your claims adjuster for review and approval. If your claim involves injuries, you will work with an adjuster who specializes in these matters. They will investigate any available medical benefits and provide the necessary forms. Once you’re done with all the repairs and formalities, your insurance company will disburse any invoices on your behalf (minus the deductible, which you already paid to the mechanic or contractor).
Note: Remember to report your hit-and-run to the police within 24 hours. Failing to do so can lead your insurance company to believe that it was your fault and you won’t be compensated for your vehicle damage or injury. Your insurance rate could also increase as a result.
Protecting Your Rights with the Help of a Personal Injury Lawyer
Hit-and-run cases are complex by nature, and insurance companies can make things more difficult for you. Under such circumstances, you need to have the right legal advisor to protect your rights. Canadian law limits the amount of time you have to file a tort claim; usually two years. An experienced car accident lawyer will review your case details, determine if you are within the statute of limitations, and help you get the accident benefits you deserve.
It’s important to maintain your composure during and after a hit-and-run accident. Speeding off after the offender is not only dangerous for you but for other drivers and pedestrians. Instead, follow these steps and consult a personal injury lawyer to evaluate the prospects of filing a compensation claim.