Handling a Hit and Run – What Do When the Other Guy Just Leaves

You come home one evening to find a dent in the bumper of your car parked in front of your house. It’s going to cost over a thousand dollars to get it fixed and you don’t want to tell your insurance company because they’ll up your rates and you will wind up paying more in the long run.

You check with the neighbors. Nobody saw anything. What do you do?

As a victim of a hit and run accident, you probably feel angry. You may feel confused. It’s not clear how to go about getting compensation for damage. Don’t despair. There are things you can do to make the experience less daunting, should you find yourself in such a situation.

What Is a hit and run?

According to Barry P. Goldberg, a professional law corporation, a hit and run accident is any incident when a driver intentionally leaves the scene of the accident without providing contact information. Some examples are when a car bumps into you and drives off or when someone hits your vehicle when it’s parked and leaves no contact information.

What do you do after a hit and run?

First of all, stay as calm as possible. You may be under a tremendous amount of stress, but take a few deep breaths and try to stay centered. You need to gather information. Information will help the police catch the person who hit you and will help your insurance decide your claim appropriately.

What is the make and model of the car that hit you? Can you get the license number? Were there witnesses? If so, ask for their names and contact information.

Before you leave the scene…

Write down the date, time, and location of the accident. Take pictures of the scene. Take pictures of your vehicle. If the other car’s paint is visible on the dent, get a picture of that.

If, as in the case we started with, the hit and run happened while your car was parked, and no one saw it, record as accurately as you can the time, location and description of damage. Don’t speculate about what probably happened, even if obvious. Just the facts, Ma’am.

Bear in mind that it is rather common for drivers to hit an object and try to claim there was a hit and run accident, so gather information and take pictures that will help disprove this possibility in the eyes of the insurance adjusters.

What do the police do?

You may be tempted to chase down the driver who hits you and speeds away, but resist this urge. If you are driving recklessly and cause another accident, you will make things worse. You may even find yourself the victim of assault from a stranger who you didn’t know was armed and dangerous.

It’s better to call the police and file an accident report as soon as possible. This is where the information you gather becomes so important. Even if the police don’t catch the guy, a police report will facilitate the insurance claim process and give you an official document that carries more weight in court, should it come to that.