Very few people who have been involved in a car accident, no matter how minor, are capable of remaining calm for the vital few moments after the accident has happened. There are a million thoughts that cross their mind – Did I hurt anyone? Is anyone in my car injured?
Only after the car driver has ticked off that basic check list do they begin to worry about their own physical state as well as the damage caused to their car. Although it may only take about thirty seconds it can seem like a very long time. However, those thirty seconds can be vital when the other driver involved in the accident decides to leave the scene, for whatever reason.
Who’s responsible if I’m a victim of a hit and run accident?
There may be a number of reasons why a driver involved in an accident will rapidly leave the scene without exchanging any details for insurance purposes with none of them being excusable.
Overall it is a very callous act to do as there may be people injured in the other car in need of attention. Leaving the scene of an accident without contacting the authorities is a criminal act in the United States.
By leaving the scene of an accident a driver is more or less automatically regarded as being at fault. However, this should never be taken absolutely for granted. The onus of finding proof will always fall on the person who wants to claim for accident damage. The chances of someone who has left the scene of an accident without exchanging details later trying to submit an insurance claim is very slim indeed, but can happen. That’s why it is of the utmost importance for the person who has been the victim of a hit and run accident to find objective witnesses.
Hit and Run Insurance-What if there is no proof?
In many cases hit and run incidents involve stationary cars. There is no worse feeling than returning to your car to discover that it has been involved in some form of accident, and there is no one around who is prepared to admit responsibility. The first thing to do is keep your head. If the car was parked in the street outside your home or anywhere else don’t be slow in knocking on doors to see if there were any witnesses.
In a lot of cases you might find that a well meaning person would have either witnessed the accident or at least seen the hit and run driver flee the scene. If you find them and they have taken note of their license number you are in a very strong position. In these cases you have to take full details of the witness, as they will probably be asked to appear in court at some time.
If the hit and run accident took place in a car park, either in a shopping mall or airport car park for example, the chances may be that bit slimmer of finding a witness. What can be done, however, is to approach the company who manage the car park to see if they have any close circuit TV cameras that were working in the area at the approximate time when the accident occurred. You will have to move fast on this as these tapes are usually wiped fairly quickly.
If there are no witnesses to be found then the victim of the hit and run accident will need to face their insurers on the strength of their word alone, and with as many details as they can provide. Insurance companies will not be so willing to pay out if they cannot claim against a third party’s insurance and they chances are that the victim of the accident will have no option but to claim against their own insurance. That’s why it is so vital to find witnesses.
What if the driver drove away, only because of an emergency?
Under any circumstance, having an objective witness is a major bonus when it comes to settling the case.
One of the great anomalies when it comes to car insurance is that if the hit and run driver had not committed any crime other than leaving the scene, they may contest your insurance claim, and their insurance company will almost certainly back them up. They may claim that they were under some kind of stress or in shock or any one of a hundred other reasons. In that case it will be their word and against yours and your insurance company against theirs. It will come down to the person who can produce reliable and objective witnesses that will win out in the end.
Final Word On Hit And Run Accidents
Being involved or being a victim of a hit and run driver can be a very harrowing event. Coming out of the experience without any financial damage is only reasonable to expect, as long as you remember that it is not a foregone conclusion. If you were to blame for the accident, even if the driver left the scene, but can later produce witnesses that you were the guilty party, you may have to operate your policy and lose your no claims bonus and pay part of the cost of repair. That’s why it is so important to keep your head, and find witnesses that will speak up for you, if and when the case comes to court.