A “hit-and-run” accident refers to a situation where a driver who was involved in a motor vehicle collision flees the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, this leaves you, the victim, with the burden of proving what happened. Here, the auto collision attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz provide information on what to do if you have been the victim of a hit-and-run.
A hit-and-run accident includes hitting another driver and driving away, colliding with a parked car and failing to leave any information behind, and forcing another driver off the road without returning to the scene of the incident. It can also refer to hitting a pedestrian with a vehicle and fleeing the scene of the incident. Leaving the scene of an accident before the arrival of the police or before a police report has been filed is illegal in the state of Maryland.
Those who have been convicted of a hit-and-run crash that resulted in injuries to the affected driver may face up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000; fatal hit-and-run accidents can result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Stay on Scene
Although it may be tempting to leave the scene and pursue your assailant, it is important that you stay at the site of the accident. Chasing after the fleeing driver is dangerous to yourself and bystanders and may lead to another crash. Staying at the scene of the crime also allows the police to document your account of the events.
It is essential to gather as much information at the scene of the accident as possible. The more evidence you gather, the better your chances are of helping the police locate the fleeing driver. Important information includes a license plate number; make, model, or color of the fleeing vehicle; identification details of the driver; photo evidence of the damage incurred to your vehicle or yourself, and other physical evidence available.
Look for Witnesses
Any witnesses around the crime scene can positively help your case. A witness may be a bystander, other driver or pedestrian. Witnesses should discuss what they saw with the police to help file a report. It is also good practice to take their names and contact information in case they need to be reached for further questions.
Understand Insurance for Hit-and-Run Crashes
Maryland requires all auto insurance policies to provide coverage to victims of hit-and-run crashes through the Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage required in all policies. As such, even if you cannot determine the identity of the hit-and-run driver, you are still covered for your injuries and property damage.
Seek Legal Guidance
Even if you have followed the steps listed above, it is a strongly recommended practice to consult with an auto collision attorney. In most cases the insurance company will want to settle as quickly as possible, offering you as little as possible. Having experienced legal counsel will ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to, and that you are legally protected if your insurance company is uncooperative. If you or a loved one has been involved in a hit-and-run, call the auto accident attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz for a consultation today.