Hit and Run
A hit and run accident is when a motor vehicle hits another car, person, or object, and drives away without the offender providing their insurance details and contact information.
What is a hit and run accident?
Did someone hit your car in a parking lot and drive away without leaving contact information? Maybe you were in a car accident where the other driver ran a stop sign, banged into your passenger side, and then just kept going. Or perhaps someone crashed into your garden’s retaining wall and drove off, leaving a trail of damage and bad vibes.
All of these are examples of a hit and run accident.
In a typical car accident, drivers exchange contact information, driver’s license details, and details about their insurance company. But in a hit and run, one of the drivers leaves the scene of the accident without providing any information. Hell, they don’t even stop to make sure they haven’t killed anyone! This can have very serious consequences, and for good reason.
Consequences of a hit and run accident
- Leaving the scene of an accident where there is injury to a person is a felony in some states, with potential fines of $5,000 to $20,000 and possible jail time
- A hit and run accident is a misdemeanor in other instances, with fines up to $5,000
- Suspension or revocation of the offending party’s drivers license for six months to three years is possible, or a lifetime revocation for a serious hit and run accident
- Increased insurance rates
- Potential lawsuits for medical bills, lost wages, and property damages
What to do if you’re in a hit and run car crash
Whatever you do, don’t drive away! Leaving the scene of a car accident is a misdemeanor in most states, and could result in serious penalties up to and including revocation of your driver’s license.
Even if you’re not at-fault, driving away can get you in trouble unless you’re leaving to get help or medical assistance. If you leave the scene, make sure you call the situation in to the local police department.
If there appears to be any serious injuries, call 911 immediately. Taking care of an injured person is the first priority—then worry about your car.
Assess the damage to your car and take pictures. You might decide to contact the local police department and ask them to send out an officer so you can file a police report. Even in minor fender benders, your insurance company will ask for the police report when you file a claim.
In a hit and run accident you probably won’t have a chance to get the other driver’s name and phone number, their license plate state and number, or insurance information—for obvious reasons—but if you can record any of that information, you should. You’ll also want to take photos of the accident scene and the damages your car
If it’s a true hit and run crash and the other driver has left the scene, your car insurance company might help pay for damages if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. If another motor vehicle struck your car, you could file a claim under collision coverage. You should still file a police report even if the other driver isn’t present.
What to do if you’re in a hit and run in a parking lot
If you hit another car in a parking lot, try to wait for the other driver to return to their car—even if you just dinged their car door or bent a mirror. There’s a good chance the driver is grabbing a coffee or shopping close by, so see if you can track them down.
You can’t always wait around or find the driver, so if that’s the case, at least leave a note. Include the same contact information that you would if talking to them in-person. Write down their license plate and take pictures for your own records, too, and consider filing a voluntary police report to be on the safe side.
What if someone hits your car in a parking lot and doesn’t leave a note? While you can ask people nearby or workers in a store if they saw anything, you might be out of luck.
What do do in other hit and run situations
What if you’re struck by a hit and run driver? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for motorists to hit a pedestrian or cyclist and then just…peed off. If this happens to you, it’s hard (but not impossible) to get evidence of the incident.
As the offending driver is pulling away, whip out your phone and try to at least get a picture of their license plate. See if you can identify the car’s make and model. The more information you have for your insurance company or law firm, the easier it will be to find the hit and run driver.
Ask bystanders if they saw anything and can provide any details, too. Businesses in the area may have surveillance cameras that recorded helpful information as well.
What if there’s just property damage to your car or home? If you or your neighbor has a video doorbell (like the Ring) you might be able to get a glimpse of the hit and run driver that way. Knock on doors and ask around the neighborhood for help.