As a new driver, there is one thing that is ingrained into the mind of everyone starting out behind the wheel: It is never okay to leave the scene of an accident. Getting into an accident can trigger the “fight or flight” instinct for many. According to a previous study by NHTSA, it’s estimated that there is a hit-and-run crash happening every 43 seconds somewhere in the country. While this number is shocking, it is also completely preventable.
Whether you’re an experienced driver or your teen is just getting behind the wheel, it’s important to know the proper steps to take after a car accident. Learn more here about what to do immediately after a hit-and-run accident.
- Call 911 if you or someone in your car is injured. Even seemingly small injuries such as a bump on the head or minor whiplash can progress to more serious injuries later on.
- Stay in the location of the accident. Every state requires the people involved in the accident to stay at the scene as long as it’s safe to do so.
- Get as much information about the other driver and car as possible. This includes the license plate number, their insurance carrier, phone number, description of the vehicle and the damage, as well as photos of both vehicles.
- Ask witnesses who were in the area for their statement on what they saw happen.
- Immediately admit fault. Depending on what state you are in, admitting fault can leave you responsible for the costs.
- Leave the scene for any reason, as you can be charged for leaving the scene of a car accident.
- Follow the driver. If the other driver is in the process of fleeing the scene of the accident, let them leave. If you try to follow them, you’ll lose the chance to speak to eyewitnesses and risk getting into another accident.
- Wait to call 911 or file a claim with your insurance company. According to a Seattle car accident attorney at Washington Injury Law, “It is vital to act quickly to recover compensation from a car accident.” An official report will help the police find the other driver, as well as help the insurance process go smoothly.
What are the Consequences for Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident?
When a person immediately leaves the scene of a crime after an accident, they are making themselves look guilty even if they aren’t. While this reaction may be stemming from fear, confusion, or guilt, it can actually make things worse later on. In some cases, there may be a warrant issued for the person who left the scene. In many states, if only property was damaged then the hit-and-run would be considered a misdemeanor. But, if there were physical injuries that resulted from the hit-and-run, the driver may face steep fines and possible jail time.
A sudden car accident can be traumatic and it’s important to handle the situation as quickly and effectively as possible. With the help of law enforcement, your insurance company, and potentially an injury lawyer, you don’t have to be fearful or anxious the next time you’re involved in a car crash.