You approach a traffic light and come to a stop. Everything seems normal when out of nowhere you get rear-ended. You are in shock, afraid, confused, and in pain. You look in your rearview mirror and the vehicle that struck your car is leaving the scene. Hit-and-run crashes can happen when you least expect leaving you with trauma, personal injury, and property damage. Insurance claims and legal action after the fact can often be overwhelming, as well. It is important to understand the consequences of a hit-and-run accident and, more importantly, what you can and should do during and after they happen.
Is a hit-and-run serious?
A hit-and-run incident is a very serious matter. Under Illinois law, it is a crime for a driver to flee the scene of an accident before the police arrive. If prosecuted, it would be a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to 1 year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine in addition to probation for up to 24 months. Although there are serious criminal consequences, this does not stop many drivers from leaving the scene of an accident.
Hit-and-run incidents occur more often than you think, unfortunately. And not only do they cause personal injury and property damage, but they can also be fatal. Below are some sobering statistics about hit-and-run crashes in the U.S. gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the AAA Foundation.
An estimated 737,100 hit-and-run crashes occurred in 2015.
A hit-and-run crash happens somewhere in the U.S. every 43 seconds.
2,049 fatalities resulted from hit-and-run crashes in 2016 which was the highest number ever recorded.
What to do if you’re in a hit-and-run crash?
Being involved in a hit-and run crash can be traumatic and disorienting to say the least. But there are things you can and should do at the time of the accident to ensure your own health and safety and to hold the at-fault driver accountable. If you are in a hit-and-run crash, you should:
Gather facts. Immediately write down any identifying information about the vehicle that struck you.
Collecting some or all of the information below are important in locating the at-fault driver that fled the scene of the accident:
Make and model of the vehicle.
Color of the vehicle.
Year of the vehicle.
Where the accident happened.
Date and time of the accident.
And any other relevant details you can gather.
Gather witness information, if possible, and request they speak to the police to document their statements in the police report.
Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if your injuries are minor seeking medical attention may prevent those injuries from becoming worse.
What should I do after a hit-and run?
Every bit of information you collected about the incident will help in any potential claim made on your behalf. If the at-fault driver is located, then a claim would be filed with their insurance company for personal injury and/or property damage. If the at-fault driver cannot be located, then an uninsured motorist claim will be filed with your insurance company for your personal injuries and/or property damage.
Should I get a lawyer for a hit-and-run?
It is always a good idea to have the best legal advice available in situations like this to help resolve the issue as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you are or someone you know is a victim of a hit and run accident, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Contact the experienced Chicago car accident attorneys at The Kryder Law Group for a free consultation at 312-223-1700.