What to Do (and Not Do) After a Hit-and-Run
Our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green frequently represent individuals who have been injured in car accidents caused by the negligence of other drivers. Most of the time, we know who the negligent party is—at the time of the accident, more often than not, our client exchanged identification and insurance information with the other driver. But one reason we might not know the identity of the negligent party (the potential defendant) is if the accident was of the hit-and-run variety.
Hit-and-run accidents are serious and take place more frequently than you might think. Last year, as our personal injury lawyers know, there were over 92,000 hit-and-run car accidents in the State of Florida. These accidents resulted in over 19,000 injuries—1,200 of them serious bodily injuries.
According to the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the percentage of car crashes classified as hit-and-runs has remained steady year-over-year, meaning that the problem of people leaving the scene of accidents has not gotten better.
When a negligent driver causes a car crash and then leaves the scene of the accident before they should, they not only have inflicted harm on another but they have made it more difficult for the injured party to seek compensation. Because leaving the scene of an accident can cause such further harm, in Florida, doing so takes what would have just been a civil wrong (negligent driving which caused an accident) and turns it into a criminal wrong: leaving the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury.
So, what are you supposed to do if you’ve been hit by another driver who then leaves the scene before you can exchange information or have a police officer arrive on the scene?
First and foremost, do not try to follow or chase the other driver. While following the fleeing driver might seem like an efficient way to catch up with them or figure out who it was that hit you, leaving the scene of an accident can have terrible consequences for you. First of all, it can draw into question, at later stages, who was really at fault in the accident. Moreover, you will miss the opportunity to seek out witnesses to the accident. Lastly, chasing after somebody in a car can expose you to civil liability. In pursuing a personal injury claim, as our personal injury lawyers know, you want to go into court (or into settlement discussions) with “clean hands,” so to speak.
That said, there are many things you can and should do. As soon as you are safely able to do so, and after you’ve called the police, jot down—if you have this—the license plate number of the fleeing vehicle and the other vehicle’s make, model and color. Also take note of which direction the fleeing vehicle was headed. This information, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know, can be crucial because police can use it to identify the car and driver that caused the damage. Additionally, write down the location, time and cause of the accident. Once you’ve written down this information (remember to write it down quickly, because memory fades over time, sometimes more quickly than we’d hope), take pictures of the damage to your vehicle. Finally, after you’ve done this and as you’re waiting for police to arrive, look around for witnesses to the accident. Ask any witnesses you find for their names and contact information—these witnesses, and their willingness to share their recollections of what happened, will be very helpful to you in your pursuit of compensation.
If you have any other questions about this or any other personal injury-related issue, or if you or someone you know has been injured due to the wrongdoing or negligence of another, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green for a free consultation by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to assisting you.