Hit-and-run accidents happen all too often in San Diego. From parking lot backups to sideswipes on busy streets, you never know when you’ll end up the victim of a careless hit-and-run driver. In these situations, you may feel at a loss as to who will cover your damages. Your vehicle may have sustained expensive harms, or you may have suffered serious personal injuries with no one around to face liability. Here are five steps to successfully handle a hit-and-run case involving bodily injury or property damage in California.
Gather as Much Information as Possible
When another car hits you or your vehicle and speeds off, you have no contact information to record. That does not mean you can’t use other important information to help your claims process run smoother. At the time of the incident, record as much information as possible. This includes your location or that of your parked vehicle, photographs of damages, medical bills, and eyewitness names and contact information. Ask around to see if anyone saw the hit-and-run vehicle and could describe what it looked like. If you happen to see the license plate, make, model, or type of car that hit you, write this down as well.
Photographs are excellent forms of evidence in a hit-and-run case and can be especially helpful in proving your damages to your insurance company. Insurers are often wary of hit-and-run claims, as they can be red flags for fraud. Taking photographs at the scene of the incident can help prove your story. If another vehicle’s paint is visible on your car, take photos. The more pictures you have of what happened, the better off the investigators will be in searching for the perpetrator.
File a Police Report
Always report a hit-and-run collision to San Diego police. Although finding the perpetrator is rare, it does happen. Involving the police can improve your chances of identifying the driver and holding him or her liable for your damages. An official police report of the incident can also serve as proof in an insurance claim. File an official accident report if the police officer doesn’t do so for you. This report should include all vital details of the accident, including the names of any eyewitnesses.
Call Your Insurance Company
If the police cannot find the person who hit you or your vehicle, your next option for damage recovery is through your insurance company. California has minimum car insurance requirements for all citizens. This includes $5,000 in property damage, $15,000 for injury or death to one person, and $30,000 for more than one person. Hit-and-run damage coverage is not a requirement for policyholders; it is an additional form of insurance with the title “uninsured/underinsured motorist” insurance. Report your incident to your insurance company and ask if your policy carries this type of insurance.
Seek Compensation for Damages
If your insurance policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, your insurer will cover your damages as if the other driver had stayed on scene but lacked proper insurance. In this case, simply follow the insurance agent’s instructions for filing your claim and receiving your check to cover your personal injuries and/or property damage. Should the police identify the driver but he/she doesn’t have enough insurance coverage, you may seek compensation through the California court system. Without this insurance coverage and without a driver to take responsibility, you may be at a loss for recovering damages. Speak to an attorney regarding a hit-and-run car accident if it resulted in considerable injury or property damage.