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How to Handle Hit-And-Run Accidents

By Anh Nguyen |

Editor's Note: As the number of hit-and-run accidents continues to grow nationwide, understanding what to do in the situation becomes more relevant. So we turned to Fame (CriminalDefense), for some Expert tips. As a licensed attorney with over 9 years of experience handling criminal matters and defending clients, he’s got great insight into what to do and when.

This post is part of the Experts Helping Experts program where Experts teach fellow Experts new skills, share expertise, and discuss hot topics. To learn more and contribute, click here.


Accidents happen. This is why we have insurance. If you’re in a hit-and-run accident, here’s what you want to do:

Gather information

If a driver is the victim of a hit-and-run, they should try and obtain the license plate number and the make and model of the vehicle that struck them. This information can be turned over to the police, who can use that to locate the owner of the other vehicle, to help find the person who was driving and struck them.  

They should also try and get a good look at the driver (if possible), since they may have to identify them in court, at trial, if the person is found and charged criminally, since they will have to testify and place them behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time of the accident. 

Call the police

Then call the police and have them come out to the scene, to write up an accident report and document it.

Call your insurance company

And contact your insurance company afterward to report this, so a claim can be started.

Call a lawyer

If the victim suffered any injuries, they should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, after the incident, since they could have a basis for a civil lawsuit against the other driver and there are certain timelines, in which things must occur.

What if you’re not in your car when it gets hit?

Now, if their car was parked and they did not witness this, it will make it a lot harder to find the person who hit them. After they call the police, so a report is made, they should speak to anyone present, to see if they witnessed this and can provide any helpful information. Also, if this was in a public area, they should speak to any business owners, to see if they possibly have a camera set up, which may have recorded this or any homeowners, in a residential area, who may have security cameras as well. This way, the police can review the footage, to see if there is anything which can help lead to an arrest. 

What kind of info will your insurance company need?

The insurance company will likely want a police report / accident report, so the incident is documented. This is why the police should be called, so there is evidence that it occurred and the insurance company does not think the victim caused the damage himself or herself and is trying to file a fraudulent claim. They will likely want a statement from the victim about the accident as well, so they should be prepared to tell them the location of this and any other pertinent information to support the claim.

How do you know if you need legal help?

If someone is a victim, the State represents their legal interest, if criminal charges are filed against the other driver/defendant. As such, the State will seek restitution on behalf of the victim, to make them whole.

Now, it is very possible that the victim may have suffered injuries as well, so they should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, after the incident, since they could have a basis for a civil lawsuit against the other driver and there are certain timelines, in which things must occur.

If you are the driver who left the scene and the police contact you or come to your home, it would be at that time that you want to consider retaining a criminal defense attorney to represent your interest. Any statement made to the police can and likely will be used against you, so you do not want to incriminate yourself. There is no legal obligation to speak with the police, so if you do, it is at your own discretion. 

Another important aspect of this topic: What if you’re the driver that left the scene?

If you are the driver who left the scene and the police contact you or come to your home, it would be at that time that you want to consider retaining a criminal defense attorney to represent your interest. Any statement made to the police can and likely will be used against you, so you do not want to incriminate yourself. There is no legal obligation to speak with the police, so if you do, it is at your own discretion. 

Remember, there is no reason to panic and leave the scene of an accident because you likely will be caught. If caught, this went from a civil infraction to a criminal charge, which could have a negative effect on your future. In addition, I often hear drivers say they panicked and left the scene of an accident because they did not have a valid license or did not have insurance. This only makes the situation worse and while you may face a criminal charge for not having one or the other, there is no reason to compound it and pick up another charge, by leaving.  Moreover, if there are serious bodily injuries, this could be escalated to a felony offense, which makes the situation much worse. 

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