In the immediate aftermath of a hit-and-run accident, you should take many of the same steps you would take if the at-fault driver had not fled the scene. The State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suggests:
- Immediately stop your car and call 9-1-1 to summon police to the accident scene
- Move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic to a safe location, if possible
- Exchange your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information with any involved drivers that remained at the scene and with the investigating police officer
- File a car accident report, especially if injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage occurred
Unless your injuries prevent you from doing so, you may also wish to:
- Take photos of your vehicle from many angles
- Obtain witness contact information, along with their descriptions of the hit-and-run vehicle and driver
- Take photos of any dropped parts or other debris that might help identify the car and driver that fled the scene.
You should report the accident to your insurance company. You may also want to schedule a consultation with a personal injury law firm. A lawyer might be able to provide additional guidance on what to do in a hit-and-run case to help you pursue compensation through any available methods.
Use Your Own Auto Insurance Policy if Possible
If the police are able to locate the hit-and-run driver from your accident, you may be able to file a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit against them directly. If not, you may have coverage options based on your own car insurance policy.
All vehicles registered in California are required to carry a minimum amount of insurance protection to represent financial responsibility in the event of an accident. According to the California Department of Insurance, your insurance provider is also required to offer you the options of uninsured motorist coverage (UMC) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).
Although you are not obligated to purchase this optional coverage, you are obligated to sign a waiver confirming your refusal to do so. If you do have UMC or UIM, you may be able to leverage this protection to cover certain expenses and losses in your hit-and-run car accident claim.
Evidence of Your Accident
Even if you are filing a UMC or UIM claim with your own insurance company, you may need to present evidence of liability and your damages. You or your legal team may be able to use the following evidence in your case:
- Surveillance, security, or CCTV footage of the accident, if available
- Testimony from witnesses or accident reconstruction experts
- Your medical records
- Any bills, estimates, or invoices you receive for your medical treatments or property repair/replacement costs
- Documents from your work, such as pay stubs or time off requests, that indicate your lost wages
Make sure to preserve and retain any evidence you have from your accident.
Damages You Might Be Able to Recover
California Civil Code (CIV) §1431.2 allows accident victims to seek compensation for certain economic and non-economic damages after a car accident. Depending on your injuries and the methods that are available to you to pursue compensation, you may be able to recover compensation for your:
- Medical expenses, both current and future
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of business
- Property damage or loss
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Emotional trauma
Your legal team may be able to help you calculate the value of each individual type of damage and arrive at a comprehensive value for your overall claim.
Make Sure Your Potential Lawsuit Is Filed on Time
In addition to ensuring your claim is accurately valued, your legal team might also help ensure your claim is filed on time. Timely filing means complying with California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, which generally gives you two years after your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Failing to file your lawsuit prior to the general two-year deadline could lead to having your case dismissed without ever being heard. A personal injury law firm might be able to ensure your potential lawsuit is filed on time, and the possibility of dismissal is eliminated.
We Can Help You Know What to Do in a Hit-And-Run Case
If you or someone you love was injured in a hit-and-run car accident, you might have avenues for recovering compensation. Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices represents hit-and-run accident victims in Los Angeles. We may be able to fight for compensation on your behalf while you recover from your injuries.
For a free case review with a member of our team, call Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices today at (866) 559-7223.