One of the first principles of getting into a car accident that we learn is to never leave the scene. Yet, it happens every day in California.
Also known as a hit-and-run, fleeing from an accident, whether it's your fault or theirs, is a crime. But you are certainly not responsible for someone's unscrupulous and outrageous behavior.
California car accident lawyers know that drivers leave for a myriad of reasons. Typically, the individual has a lot to lose. The situation usually involves attempting to evade criminal action. He or she may leave because of fear related to:
- not having a driver's license or insurance
- knowing they already have a warrant for their arrest
- being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
What the driver doesn't understand is that leaving only fans the flames of their troubles. Not only that, but it leaves you in a confused state of panic and concern over what to do next.
Learn more about how to handle this situation before it ever happens. If you are reading this after your accident, you can use it as a checklist to crosscheck the important steps you have taken.
1. Gather as Much Self-Identifying Information Possible
It is difficult to recuperate your faculties after something as shocking as a car accident. In spite of the existing circumstance, try to gather as much self-identifying information about the other driver as possible.
The details provided give police a jumping off point in finding the culprit. Try to jot down the following information:
- make, model, and color of the vehicle
- the license plate number
- unique characteristics of the car
- description of the driver
There is the possibility that camera footage of the area may be available for review at a later point. However, image quality and residency of the driver can affect the outcome of your case. The important thing is to stay safe and collect important details. You can only do your best and that is good enough.
2. Call the Police as soon as Possible
The sooner you call the police, the sooner the police may be able to find the driver who hit your car. It is illegal in California for someone to flee the accident when injury or property damage occurs no matter how minor.
Plus, having a police report of the occurrence is a formal record you can use when making claims for damages with your insurance company. Documentation is critical to the outcome of post-accident resolutions that work in your favor.
3. Record Details About the Accident to Jog Your Memory Later
Your recollection of the accident is as important as filing a police report. Your statement is used to support the circumstances surrounding the accident. If you can, write down exactly what happened to cause the accident. Ensure that you are only committing the facts to paper since your words could be used against you in an action between you and the other driver if he or she is ever located.
4. Avoid Giving Chase
Chasing the individual who committed the hit-and-run is inadvisable. It is as much problematic for you to go after the individual as it was for them to leave.
When you leave, it makes it difficult to pinpoint the nature of the accident in your favor. It also puts you in potential danger.
Excessive speeds, intoxication, and concealed weapons are potential sources of unwanted trouble. Trust a California car accident attorney when he or she says that it is more satisfying to win in the courtroom.
5. Speak to Witnesses in the Immediate Area
Witnesses are great resources of unbiased, third-party information in any car accident. This is particularly true when their statements align with each other.
When a driver leaves the scene of the accident, witness statements become even more valuable. Their impressions of the accident will be included in the police report. They may help identify the individual and prove your allegations.
California Car Accident Attorneys Can Still Help
When police catch the individual responsible, having an experienced California car accident lawyer on your side can assist in pursuing the driver in court. Even if they got away with it, you are still left to deal with insurance companies who want to minimize your claims. You don't have to deal with either situation on your own.
At Freeman & Freeman, we know that personal injury victims have enough to deal with during post-accident tasks. From managing overzealous insurance companies to handling your day of justice in court, we use our 60 years of trial experience to make your life as whole as possible.