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How to handle a hit-and-run accident

Getting in a car accident is enough to ruin someone's day. But if you are involved in a hit-and-run, the experience can be particularly disorienting.

You realize that your vehicle has been hit and before you can go out to get the other driver's information, their car speeds up the distance.

As overwhelming as the experience may be how you react next can play an important role in protecting yourself physically and financially. If you have been involved in a hit-and-run, here are some important details to keep in mind before leaving the scene of an accident.

What is a Hit-and-Run?

An accident is considered a hit-and-run when a party flees the scene of the crash, even if it is only a fender bender. Depending on where you live, the consequences of leaving a crash can include criminal charges, fines, revocation of licenses and even imprisonment.

Although the penalties are steep, a driver may choose to flee for several reasons:

  • They lack car insurance .
  • They are already breaking the law in some way.
  • They are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • They do not own the vehicle they are driving.

What to do in a Hit-and-Run

Like all collisions, there are some basic steps you should take once the dust has settled. As the last car, it is your responsibility to document as much of the accident as possible so that you are better positioned to protect yourself, your passengers and your vehicle.

Here's what to do if you're a victim of a hit-and-run:

  • Stay calm. Every collision can evoke intense emotions including anger, fear and anxiety. Try to stay together so that you can think and act with a clear head.
  • Stay where you are. Do not leave the scene of the accident or try to chase the other driver. If you stay, you can help yourself gather valuable evidence while avoiding inflicting punishment on yourself. Move your car safely off the road and start by checking if you or any passengers need medical attention.
  • Remember the information. Try to remember as many details as you can, such as the make and model car as well as the registration number. You may not be able to identify who met you, but everything you remember can help when you talk to the police or your insurance company.
  • Find Witnesses. An accident of some kind will usually draw attention. When you are sure, you can see if there are any witnesses to confirm what happened . If possible, get name and contact information. This will help you strengthen your story when you talk to the police.
  • Call the police. Call 91
    1 and call the police at the scene, especially if anyone needs medical attention. (Some states legally require calling the police after a collision.) Authorities will help investigate the incident and file an accident report.
  • Take photos. While you get the story right, pictures will help prove the damage. Take photos from different angles, including a complete picture of the vehicle and close-ups of all the things and scratches. Do not forget to take pictures of the color that the other car also left.
  • Contact your insurance agent. In the event of an accident (not just a hit-and-run), call your insurance agent to see what you should do next. They can guide you through what to do and how to claim.

Will my insurance cover a hit-and-run?

If the police can identify the culprit, their insurance company can help pay for the damages. However, many hit-and-run drivers are never identified, which means that their liability insurance is not an option.

In the event of a hit-and-run, the chances are high that you will need to file an application with your insurance company. Whether the accident is covered depends on the coverage in your policy. This is why it is best to make sure you have the protection you need. These coverage options can help you protect yourself:

  • Uninsured and underinsured car insurance claims: These coverages may pay to repair or replace your vehicle if you are hit by someone with limited or no insurance coverage. This means that it can also cover unidentified drivers in a hit-and-run. But availability varies by state. Some states do not offer one or both covers. In other states, such as North Carolina and West Virginia, coverage of uninsured car insurance claims is mandatory. Talk to your local ERIE agent about how things work where you live. In states where this coverage is not available, optional collision coverage can cover damage caused by a hit-and-run driver. Learn more about the coverage of uninsured and underinsured drivers.
  • Collision Coverage: Collision Coverage helps cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car after a collision, including a hit-and-run. When using this coverage, most drivers will pay a deductible which is a fixed amount stated in your policy.
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection for personal injuries: Like property damage cover, this type of cover can help pay for damages that you and your passengers have suffered if you suffer from someone with limited or no insurance (or hit-and-run) drivers and can pay for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. This coverage is mandatory (and exempt in some states). Other states, such as New York, are non-fault states, which means that in the event of an accident, drivers can submit an application to their insurance company regardless of who is at fault. Even if you live in a faultless condition, it is recommended to have an insured and underinsured coverage.

Get Back to Your Life

A car accident, whatever the circumstances, can change all day, week or month. And handling the damage process without having every piece of the puzzle can make these days and weeks feel much longer. At Erie Insurance, our goal is to restore your confidence and renew your optimism by giving you a fresh start. Hassle-free complaint service and fair assessments are what we are all about. Learn more about ERIE car insurance or talk to your local ERIE agent to make sure you have everything you need to get back on the road and back to your life.

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