Getting in an accident is inconvenient, painful, and stressful. Even worse, if you’re in an accident where the at-fault party flees the scene after the crash, it can get very complicated. If you’re injured in this type of accident, you may feel especially victimized, as the person responsible is trying to evade all responsibility, and leave you with the obligation of paying costly medical bills. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a felony if the accident involves injury or death, if the identity of the driver is unknown. It can be difficult to receive compensation for your injuries. In the last few years, there is an upward trend in the number of hit-and-run accidents in Las Vegas, so it’s important you know the best way to protect yourself.
What do I do at the scene of the accident?
If the at-fault driver tries to flee the scene of the accident, call the police as soon as possible and contact first responders if you or your passengers are hurt. Some people try to chase after the driver to try to stop them from fleeing, however this is usually not a good idea and can be dangerous, especially if you’re injured. Instead, try to write details down or take pictures to capture as much information as you can about the vehicle that hit you. This includes the make, model, and color of the vehicle, the license plate number, a description of the driver, any debris left in the roadway, and the direction the driver headed. Additionally, you should take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and the accident scene, and get the contact information of any witnesses who may have seen what occurred. Lastly, wait for the police to arrive and make sure a report is filed.
What do I do after the accident?
After the accident, call your insurance company and give them the same information you gave the police. Sometimes, insurance companies have tools at their disposal to help identify these hit-and-run drivers. However, most often they will need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the at-fault vehicle in order to track down their insurance information. You
should also follow up with the police department to see if they have any leads or have been able to locate the perpetrator. Of course, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible and seek the medical attention you need right away. Your health is always the first priority when you’re involved in an accident.
What can I do now to protect myself?
Unfortunately, law enforcement officials and insurance companies are not always successful at identifying the hit-and-run driver. Luckily, it is still possible to recover compensation for injuries suffered as a result of the accident if you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM). In Nevada, UM coverage is not required. It is an optional feature that can be, and should be added to your insurance policy. UM coverage compensates you and your passengers for the damages sustained in the accident such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you do not have UM coverage, and the identity of the person that hit you cannot be obtained, you likely will never be compensated.
In Nevada, the insurance company must offer you this coverage along with Underinsured Motorist coverage (UIM), and if you reject it, you must sign a waiver. The UM/UIM bodily injury limits are usually sold in amounts that mirror the liability insurance you purchased. For example, if you have liability limits of $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, then you would add UM/UIM coverage in the same amount. By purchasing UM/UIM coverage, you will have peace of mind that if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, you and your passengers will be protected, even if the identity of the driver is never found.
At Craig P. Kenny & Associates, our dedicated Las Vegas car accident attorneys are highly experienced in handling hit-and-run accidents. Even if you cannot track down the responsible party, we are here to help. Please contact our office today for a free case review.