Getting in an accident is very upsetting, but what do you do when the other person drives away? You may be tempted to follow the fleeing driver to confront them, but that’s one of the worst things that you could do. Here’s what you should do, instead.
Stay at the Scene of the Accident
It’s a legal requirement that motorists remain at the scene of the accident, even if the accident isn’t their fault. Responsibility for an accident is completely separate from your legal duty to stop.
Staying at the scene also provides an opportunity to collect eyewitness accounts should the police have any questions. Determining responsibility directly affects how insurers address coverage.
If you or someone in the car has been injured, ask someone to call 9-1-1. Minor injuries can actually result in major health issues and a thorough examination is vital should you need to claim medical expenses.
File a Police Report Immediately
Your insurance company will want to see the official accident report if you want to file a claim. Provide the police with as much information as possible and as quickly as possible while the details are fresh in your mind.
If you saw the other vehicle, try to recall the license plate number. Some people snap a quick photo of the vehicle to record this information. A photo is a great way to pick up the vehicle make, model, and color too. When a photo isn’t possible, jot down as much as you can remember quickly after the accident.
Also record the date, time, and cause of the accident. Take photos of vehicular damage and the surrounding scene to put everything into context.
Witnesses can often supply you with additional information if you were not in your vehicle at the time of the accident. They may also see more things than you, since they weren’t directly involved in the accident.
Ask for their names and contact information. The police may need them to make a statement.
Notify Your Insurer
One of the most common questions is whether auto insurance covers a hit and run. The answer depends on your coverage. Notify your insurance agent straightaway so they can review your coverage.
Collision coverage may pay for the repair or replacement of your vehicle, even if the other driver leaves the scene. However, you will need to pay your deductible even if the other driver was at-fault. If the police later find the driver, you may be able to recover your deductible, providing they have insurance.
Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Unfortunately, a common reason for a driver to leave the scene of an accident is that they do not have insurance. In Rhode Island, approximately 15% of drivers are uninsured even though it is mandatory.
So, what happens if an uninsured driver hits your vehicle? If the police find them you may be able to sue them for damages and/or medical expenses. However, the chances of recovering your money are slim to none. If they don’t have insurance, it’s pretty unlikely you would find assets to recoup your losses through the courts.
However, drivers with uninsured motorist coverage are protected. It can reimburse you for lost wages, damages, and medical expenses if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, has insufficient coverage, or the police never identify the driver. Basically, this coverage replaces what the other driver should have had in the first place.