The seconds after a hit and run collision often feel surreal. One moment you’re crossing an intersection or cruising down the road. The next, you’ve been violently struck by a car that speeds off into the distance. As you lie stunned on the pavement struggling to process what just happened, feeling dazed, helpless and overwhelmed is completely normal.
While an incredibly challenging and traumatic situation, it’s crucial to take proper steps following a hit and run crash in order to protect your safety, preserve your rights and pursue fair compensation. With competent legal guidance and practical actions, you can still achieve justice even when the negligent driver flees the scene. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about responding in the aftermath of a hit and run accident.
When considering what to do after a hit and run accident, there are three things that you should prioritize. The first is your health, the second is gathering evidence, and the third is hiring a skilled lawyer as soon as possible.
Generally, here are the things that you should do after such an accident.
Above all else, one of the first things you should do after a car accident is to immediately tend to any urgent health needs. Call 911 right away if you are unable to move or suffering significant visible injuries. Even if you feel relatively fine initially thanks to adrenaline, crash trauma can sometimes take time to fully set in.
When the ambulance arrives, allow EMTs to fully examine you on scene and heed their professional recommendations about any scans, tests or treatments needed. Be transported to the ER if advised – refusing hospital evaluation or signing a form declining care could invalidate your future injury claim. There may be serious internal damage that’s not evident yet like fractures, internal bleeding or head trauma that requires monitoring and imaging to diagnose.
At the hospital, answer all triage intake questions thoroughly and honestly. Provide complete medical history and current prescriptions. Follow all doctor’s orders for x-rays, CT scans, blood work, cognitive evaluations and additional steps to assess the crash impacts. Don’t demand discharge until fully cleared. Complying with recommendations shows you take injuries seriously.
Before leaving the ER or urgent care center, obtain copies of all exam notes, imaging results, hospital admission/discharge papers, and doctor’s instructions for follow-up care. Keep every receipt for medications, equipment rentals like crutches or wheelchairs, and medical transport like ambulance fees and mileage for visits. All these documents help verify car accident-related healthcare costs later.
Make all follow-up appointments with your primary physician, specialists, surgeons, therapists, neurologists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, pain management clinics or any other provider. Keep a diary tracking each visit. Consistent, quality medical care provides the strongest foundation for an injury claim and maximizes chances of optimal recovery. Therefore, as far as what to do after a hit and run accident is concerned, this should be at the top of your list.
After addressing immediate health concerns, you need to get the police involved right away to initiate a prompt investigation while the evidence is still fresh. Leaving the scene makes it harder for authorities to catch fleeing drivers, but fast response times can increase the odds. Plus having an official accident report on file will be crucial for upcoming insurance and legal claims.
If officers haven’t already arrived in response to the initial 911 call, contact the local police department’s non-emergency number from the crash site or hospital. Provide the exact cross streets or closest address of where the impact occurred, along with the time and any helpful details about the suspect vehicle. Request immediate dispatch so you can give a statement ASAP.
When speaking with responding officers, clearly recount every single thing you remember about how the crash unfolded – the direction you and the car were both traveling, speed approximations, road conditions, visibility, points of impact, etc. Even small sensory details like sounds, smells and physical sensations add helpful context. Ask witnesses to provide their accounts as well before leaving.
Get the business card of the investigating officer and the report number. Follow up at the nearest police precinct within a few days to obtain your copy of the full traffic accident report, as initial filings often have a lag time. These comprehensive reports may come in handy in forming the foundation of your case, and hence making contacting law enforcement one of the most important steps as far as the question of what to do after a hit and run accident is concerned.
Gathering vehicle information is crucial for your case – and thus an important step in what to do after a hit and run accident.
While waiting for police and medical help, try to safely obtain any helpful identifying details about the suspect vehicle, like:
- License plate number and state
- Make, model, year, color
- Unique bumper stickers or vanity plates
- Noticeable existing damage like dents or rust
- Custom rims, tires, window tint or lights
- Which direction it drove off afterwards
If you have a cell phone accessible, take high-quality photos capturing the vehicle fleeing the scene from various angles and distances. Get pictures of any notable characteristics, collision damage, ground debris, skid marks, and fluids left behind that could pinpoint make or model. Shoot additional images of your injuries and the overall accident environment.
Look around for security cameras mounted on surrounding buildings that potentially captured footage of the crash and the car speeding away. Note the exact business names, addresses and timestamps that should be reviewed. Provide all this information to police to help them retrieve valuable video evidence before business owners delete old recordings.
Write down the fleeing driver’s description immediately while fresh in your mind – gender, estimated age, height, hair color, skin tone, clothing, and any unusual traits like tattoos. If you got a clear unobstructed view of their face, a police sketch artist may be able to meet with you after discharge to render the suspect’s likeness.
When you ask any lawyer questions related to what to do after a hit and run accident, they will emphasize the importance of contacting your insurance provider.
As soon as reasonably possible after seeking medical care, call your auto insurance company to report the hit and run accident. Provide your policy number and give an accurate summary of how the collision occurred, injuries sustained, and actions taken so far. Ask what documents, bills, photos or other evidence you need to submit for claims processing.
Keep a notebook tracking the claim number, assigned adjuster’s direct contact information, claim status updates, and instructions they provide. Record details on the towing company, repair shop, car rental agency, or any other vendors so insurers can follow up directly. Being highly responsive helps expedite claim resolution.
Many policies have MedPay coverage that provides immediate payouts for medical costs stemming from an accident, regardless of who was at fault. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage also covers hit and run victims in case the perpetrator lacks sufficient insurance or assets for your damages. Don’t hesitate to utilize the benefits you pay premiums for.
If your vehicle requires collision repairs, ask about your insurer’s preferred shop network. When executing this step in your list of what to do after a hit and run accident, ensure that you use a recommended, reputable repairer that will liaise directly with adjusters about damage estimates, supplemental authorizations, and claim documentation. This eliminates frustrating back-and-forth communication.
After alerting your insurance provider about the hit and run, your next call should be to an accomplished Houston motor vehicle accident attorney – and a motorcycle accident lawyer in Houston in case of a motorcycle accident – to review your legal options. A qualified legal advisor can handle claim negotiations and complex paperwork while you focus on recovering physically and mentally from this trauma.
Pursuing financial compensation through the civil court system is often necessary after a hit and run given the perpetrator’s choice to flee rather than take responsibility. An attorney makes clear you take this matter very seriously and expect the at-fault driver to still answer for their negligence. Justice won’t be easily evaded.
A skilled lawyer has investigators, subpoena power, depositions, interrogatories and other legal means to uncover the driver’s identity if police efforts stall. Attorneys know how to establish liability and maximize evidence even with minimal cooperation from defendants. Based on their experience, they can also give you actionable advice with respect to what to do after a hit and run accident.
Don’t leave money on the table by handling this alone – leverage an attorney’s expertise.
Since hit and run drivers obviously can’t be compelled to explain their actions, documentary evidence becomes extremely important for proving liability. Therefore, as far as what to do after a hit and run accident is concerned, being meticulous about preserving anything that could help your attorney piece together precisely what occurred is extremely important.
Keep the clothing you were wearing at the time of the crash stored in a sterile bag or box. Blood, debris, or dirt marks could be matched to scene samples later. Avoid washing or letting anyone else handle the items. Similarly, do not discard or attempt fixes to any personal belongings damaged in the collision before photographing.
Take ample photos and video capturing damage to your vehicle from all angles before making any repairs. Get written repair estimates from reputable body shops specifying all necessary parts, materials, labor charges, taxes and fees. Save all related receipts once work is completed.
Save medical paperwork, police reports, claim documents, text messages, online posts or anything else tied to the incident in an organized file folder or digitally in the cloud. Record details while fresh in your mind for later reference. Ask your attorney to handle requesting footage, records or statements from third-party entities like the city, nearby businesses, and even witnesses.
Don’t let critical evidence slip away over time. Inconsistencies or gaps get filled in with assumptions instead of facts. Meticulous attention to gathering and preserving all pertinent documents bolsters your car accident injury claim and refreshes your memory if the case involves years of proceedings.
Another step that you must never overlook with respect to what to do after a hit and run accident is following up on an investigation.
Don’t assume the police or insurance companies will keep you closely updated on the hit and run investigation status. You need to be assertively proactive about checking in and pushing things forward through your attorney. Call the detective and claims adjuster regularly for progress reports.
If the investigation seems to be stalling, discuss options with your counsel like hiring a private investigator, circulating a media press release seeking witnesses, or monitoring online car parts sales for damaged vehicles matching the suspect description. In severe injury claims, all options must be vigorously pursued.
Depending on the circumstances, the perpetrator may face criminal charges like felony hit-and-run or reckless driving if found. Your attorney can pressure the DA’s office to prosecute. While conviction is difficult without an admission or solid proof, a trial could compel more cooperation in gathering information to help your civil injury claim.
Don’t let urgency fade over time. Persistent follow-up demonstrates you will not allow the driver to get away with evading accountability. Keeping the case fresh in investigators’ minds increases chances of identifying the at-fault party eventually through clues like DMV records, relatives’ statements, or body shop tips.
Although the aftermath leaves you likely still hurting physically and shaken up mentally, try to promptly repair any collision damage sustained to your vehicle. Delaying needed fixes allows insurance companies to argue that some problems pre-dated the hit and run or were caused by subsequent incidents. Don’t enable their excuses. Therefore, you should never skip the repairs step when going down the list of what to do after a hit and run accident.
Before dropping the car at a repair shop, photograph all damage from multiple angles and distances in good lighting. Get a written repair estimate from at least two or three highly rated auto body shops, along with printouts detailing required parts and labor hours. Compare line item prices and keep documentation.
Select a shop with experience handling insurance claims and that will liaise directly with adjusters about damage assessments, supplement authorizations, and documentation. This smooths the claim payment process significantly compared to leaving you as the intermediary.
Carefully review the final itemized invoice before approving the repairs and paying your deductible. Keep a copy for your records and provide your attorney. If the insurance payout fails to fully cover costs, the at-fault driver owes the remainder. Your counsel can recover all auto repair bills, rental fees, property loss and depreciation.
If your vehicle is totaled, retain an appraiser to determine fair market replacement value, as insurers typically lowball initial estimates. Include taxes, registration costs and the value of all options and modifications on your destroyed vehicle. Don’t let adjusters pressure you into accepting less than you rightfully deserve.
The rush of adrenaline and shock immediately after a collision often obscures underlying issues that don’t manifest until hours or days later. While you may feel okay initially, staying vigilant about emerging symptoms and promptly consulting doctors remains critical. And so, while you may have a lot of things that you need to check off with respect to what to do after a hit and run accident, don’t ignore or self-medicate developing problems.
Keep all follow-up visits with your primary physician, specialists, therapists, counselors, or other providers recommended after ER discharge. Bring a list of all medications and supplements you take to avoid contraindications. Have providers directly bill insurers and maintain receipts for any co-pays or out-of-pocket costs.
Don’t downplay new or worsening symptoms at appointments. Even issues like persistent headaches, light sensitivity, insomnia, lack of focus, irritability or anxiety could reflect concussion, neck injury or psychological trauma. Small problems left untreated can have major long-term impacts. Report everything concerning.
Consider your doctor’s guidance about taking medical leave from work or school to properly rest and recover after a serious accident. Follow all therapy exercise schedules and home treatment instructions. Be open to medications, durable medical equipment, mental health counseling or other care that facilitates healing.
Serious hit and run injuries often involve years of expensive treatments, mobility aids, home renovations and live-in assistance. An experienced Houston personal injury attorney makes sure you receive full compensation for immediate recovery needs as well as any possible long-term care necessitated by permanent disabilities down the road.
Despite the many logistical burdens already occupying your mind with respect to what to do after a hit and run accident, be sure to also prioritize self-care and emotional healing. Getting severely hurt due to a reckless driver’s negligence causes immense trauma not just physically but mentally. Don’t bottle up pain or frustration.
- Connect with close, supportive friends and family who will listen without judgment. Consider counseling to process crash-related PTSD, driving anxiety, depression, anger issues, lack of motivation, mood instability or other mental health impacts. Joining a support group helps feel less alone in your struggles.
- Make time for gentle yoga, meditation, prayer, journaling, or other relaxation practices that reduce stress and quiet racing negative thoughts. Spend time outdoors and with pets. Get massages. Avoid overusing alcohol or other unhealthy coping mechanisms that worsen mood. Surround yourself with positivity and patience.
- Eat nutritious anti-inflammatory foods, stay hydrated, take vitamins, limit caffeine and get plenty of quality sleep. Make your healing the priority rather than rushing back to work, school or household responsibilities prematurely. Honor signs from your mind and body that you’ve reached your limit each day.
By using the strategies in this guide on what to do after a hit and run accident, you can regain control after a hit and run accident. Experienced Houston personal injury attorneys will handle compensation pursuits so you can devote energy toward your recovery. Justice can still prevail despite the driver evading the scene initially. You will heal and move forward from this ordeal.
The screech of tires, your body slamming against the ground, and the fading roar of an engine speeding out of sight—these sensory snapshots replay on a loop when you become the victim of a callous hit and run driver.
As you lie stunned trying to process what happened, the perpetrator disappears into traffic, leaving you literally and figuratively bruised by their negligence. Seeking legal expert counsel from an experienced Houston car accident attorney should be your critical next step on the challenging road toward recovery and justice.
Unlike more straightforward car accidents where police quickly exchange insurance information between cooperative parties, hit and runs mean the at-fault motorist provided no details, accepted no responsibility, and faces little immediate accountability for damage inflicted. It is even harder to hold them accountable if the accident resulted in a death.
As a result, victims or their families, in the event of a death, are burdened with identifying suspects, proving fault, and pursuing rightful compensation largely on their own. Hiring a personal injury lawyer or a wrongful death lawyer in Houston in such situations can ease this burden. This is because it allows victims or their families to tap an attorney’s investigative skills and legal knowledge.
The very nature of a hit and run collision makes establishing legal liability complex and frustrating for untrained individuals. With the negligent party refusing to admit error or provide their side of events, victims must assemble an ironclad narrative from physical evidence and witness accounts. Leave no details to assumption.
An attorney knows how to methodically reconstruct the moments preceding impact using scene data, video surveillance, forensic analysis, and perceptive witness interviews that draw out subtleties easy to overlook when traumatized. Like an orchestra conductor, they synchronize expert perspectives into a liability theory that resonates true note by note.
Skilled counsel won’t hesitate to issue subpoenas to access police reports, security camera footage, cell phone records, nearby business transactions, hospital visit details, or other avenues that may yield clues or impartial corroboration. Tenacious attorneys even hire trusted private investigators when public records leave questions unresolved. No lead gets ignored when accountability hangs in the balance.
Meticulous development of fault grounds the entire case on a factual foundation. Houston hit and run lawyers recognize that even the strongest evidence means nothing unless skillfully synthesized to align with legal standards for negligence and liability. Their shrewd legal arguments transform what happened to you into what should happen for you under the law.
Authorities locating a perpetrator often proves the exception, not the rule. When police investigations hit dead ends, the burden falls on victims and counsel to uncover the identity and insurance information legally obligating restitution. But such gumshoe work rarely mirrors the swift resolutions of primetime television. Expect a marathon, not a sprint.
Digitally savvy Houston attorneys unleash the full suite of online sleuthing tools, from facial recognition software scanning driver’s license photos to algorithmic searches of vehicle history databases for cars matching your description. Social media monitoring and access to massive marketing data troves pinpoint likely suspects based on GPS and online movement patterns.
Tenacious counsel won’t simply shrug and give up the monetary fight if initial tracing efforts falter. Deposing your insurance representatives could expose activity pointing toward a covered party. Subpoenas get served to nearby homeowners or enterprises whose security systems may have inadvertently captured valuable footage. Hospitals must surrender registration data indicating patients seeking treatment for collision injuries.
Exploring the periphery often brings the culprit into central focus. And when defendants get named, the legal heat turns up. Continued resistance risks default judgments ordering reimbursement of your damages. Whether their identity emerges tomorrow or two years from now, the attorneys persist until the responsible party gets held fully accountable.
Because fleeing negates any opportunity for good-faith negotiation and settlement, hit and runs typically end up in court. An experienced Houston auto accident attorney is therefore essential for recouping the complete car accident compensation you’re entitled to. Don’t wait years counting on a remorseful knock at the door that’s likely never coming. Take proactive legal action.
A seasoned Houston personal injury attorney intricately calculates and constructs your claim elements like medical expenses, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, disability costs, loss of enjoyment, companion claims by family members, and all foreseeable future impacts flowing from the motorist’s negligence. No penny of worthy damages gets overlooked when your quality of life hangs in the balance.
Strategic attorneys draw attention to your most sympathetic damages while subtly countering defense tactics aiming to downplay injuries as preexisting or exaggerated. Negotiation is an artful dance requiring agility, insight into human motivations, and understanding what makes your suffering real for skeptics and adjusters removed from lived trauma.
If the at-fault driver’s policy limits can’t sufficiently cover the assessed injury claim value, skilled legal teams pursue additional sources like government entities for unsafe roads, contractors for missing signage, vehicle manufacturers for inadequate safety features, trustees for absent or deceased defendants, and your own underinsured motorist coverage as needed to make you financially whole.
Between the lingering aches from your injuries, endless insurance requests for documentation, police follow-ups, multiple car repairs, and votive medical visits, who has time or energy to master complex legal processes? Certainly not you. Enlist an attorney as your tireless quarterback handling everything while you focus on recovery.
Let counsel deal directly with law enforcement investigators, claims adjusters, healthcare providers, disability administrators, car mechanics, and other third parties requiring statements or paperwork from you. They translate dense legalese and ensure no necessary steps get overlooked. Consider them an ally always ready to return serve.
An experienced Houston accident attorney also coordinates any discussions with aggressive insurance defense attorneys, oversees time-sensitive filing deadlines, develops trial strategy should settlement talks break down, and absorbs the emotional wear that comes with seeking justice from apathetic bureaucracies and corporations. They lift heavy burdens so you carry less.
The logistical maze following a hit and run rattles even the steeliest nerves. Foregoing legal representation because costs seem vague or intimidating often proves penny-wise but pound-foolish. Attorney guidance maximizes compensation, the strength of your case, and chances the responsible party actually gets held accountable. Their counsel is priceless.
Healing physically and emotionally from grievous hit and run injuries requires time, rest, and support. The legal fight compounds exhaustion and stress. Understandably, disengagement or resignation creeps in for devastated victims lacking guidance. However, experienced counsel provides motivation by sharing your burdens.
The most caring Houston accident lawyers appreciate every case represents real human suffering and livelihoods, not data points and dollar amounts. They forge genuine connections that provide comfort amid the chaos. You need someone who listens compassionately and explains things in simple terms, not legal mumbo jumbo.
Trust an attorney committed to faithfully fighting each day even when you lack the will or strength. Their perseverance and preparation doesn’t waver with passing moods. Fierce loyalty earns them referrals and reviews proclaiming: “They treated me like family. I never felt like just another client.” Find a counselor who feels like an advocate.
While the road through a hit and run aftermath may feel lonely and endless, take solace in that the miles ahead brighten each day you take positive steps guided by compassionate Houston legal counsel. Their support smooths potholes and knowing you move toward justice propels recovery. The journey seems shorter and lighter shared together.
If you need someone to fight on your behalf, you should consider contacting our experienced and skilled Houston accident attorneys. Our team of attorneys has extensive experience dealing with hit and run accidents. And so if you need experienced and skilled help, do not hesitate to contact us by calling us at 713-364-1470 or filling out our easy-to-use online contact form.