Have you ever come out of the grocery store or shopping centre to find that someone has sideswiped your car, banged up the bumper, or left a nasty dent in the driver’s side door? It puts a real damper on your day, and the fact that they didn’t leave a note apologizing or offering their contact information only adds insult to injury. You’re angry, but there’s no real recourse to take other than submitting a claim with your insurance agent — and hoping that karma will take care of the perpetrator.
Now imagine the outrage and injustice you would feel if you or someone you love was the victim of a hit and run accident that caused an injury — or even the death of your family member. What would you do? How does a person recover from injuries? What kind of legal recourse do you have? And how do you begin to reconcile your notions of human decency with this heinous, cowardly act?
How Prevalent Are Fatal Hit and Run Accidents?
These tragedies are probably more common than you think. In 2016, there were 1,980 fatal hit-and-run crashes in the United States, resulting in a whopping total of 2,049 fatalities. Even scarier? According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that total is the highest, by far, of any year in the previous decade.
Take Whatever Precautions You Can
It’s virtually impossible to guarantee that you won’t be involved in a hit and run, unless you become a hermit and never leave your home. But that’s not practical. So take whatever precautions you can, while still living your life.
If you like to bicycle, rollerblade, run, or walk for fun and exercise, try to do so on designated trails or sidewalks rather than in the street. No option besides sharing the road? If you’re biking, go with traffic. Runners should face traffic— the odds are better you’ll see danger coming and have a chance at leaping out of the way. And be sure to wear reflective clothing or even battery-powered lights to increase your visibility.
Be Prepared, and Know What Steps to Take Should an Accident Occur
Always carry a smartphone (or a disposable or digital camera) in your car, along with pen and paper. If you happen to glimpse a car that’s leaving the scene of an accident, do your best to document any details you can. Take a pic of the car itself, ideally with the license plate or any other identifying marks, like significant damage or unique bumper stickers.
Can’t snap a shot in time? Write down everything you remember about the vehicle immediately. Don’t think you will be able to recall it later — chances are that you won’t.
Call 911 immediately, as well. Give the dispatcher as much information as possible about the offending vehicle, the direction it was traveling, and where the accident took place. The faster law enforcement can start looking for the hit and run perpetrator, the better the odds of catching them.
Where to Turn After a Hit and Run
Naturally, you will want to file a police report. It may be possible for them to apprehend the person who committed this crime and tried to get away without facing the consequences.
However, detectives often have limited resources to spend on chasing hit and run drivers, given the high workload of other crime cases they have to work. So it’s also wise to secure the services of a personal injury attorney to help with your hit and run case.
“An attorney can thoroughly and tenaciously research your case,” explains Anastasia Allmon, one of the Alabama hit-and-run accident attorneys with Farris, Riley, and Pitt, LLP. “She can interview witnesses, follow leads, and cooperate with law enforcement to get to the bottom of the hit and run.”
A personal injury lawyer will be with you every step of the way. Best of all, there’s no upfront payment required, and the initial consultation comes with no obligation, either. It’s just a conversation to decide if you should proceed.
If you are ever unfortunate enough to become the victim of a hit and run accident, or if someone you love was injured or even killed as the result of a driver’s recklessness and cowardice, you need help. Law officers can only do so much. Seek out the services of a qualified injury attorney, and take the first step on your journey toward justice.