The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that roughly 682,000 hit-and-run car accidents happen each year and that in 2019, 37 of those accidents were fatal in New Jersey.
Hit-and-run incidents can leave you feeling violated and helpless. It is illegal for a driver involved in an accident to flee the scene without stopping to offer assistance or exchange information. But what can you do if you become a victim of such an incident? Knowing the steps to take can help you navigate the aftermath and get the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Stay at the scene and collect evidence
If you experience a hit-and-run, remain calm and stay at the accident scene. Ensure your safety and that of others. Take pictures of your vehicle, the damages and the surroundings. If there were witnesses, gather their contact information. They might have seen the offending vehicle or driver and can provide valuable insights during the investigation.
Notify the police
Call the police as soon as possible. Provide them with all the information you gathered, including any descriptions of the vehicle or driver. Filing a police report is crucial when seeking compensation later on.
Seek medical attention
Even if you feel fine, some injuries may not present symptoms immediately after the accident. Get a medical check-up to ensure you have no hidden injuries. This not only ensures your well-being but also creates a medical record linking any injuries to the hit and run.
Inform your insurance company
Contact your insurance company and inform them about the incident. In New Jersey, if the hit-and-run driver remains unidentified, you might be able to file a claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage can help pay for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.
Gather and maintain all documentation
Keep a detailed record of everything related to the accident. This includes the police report, medical records, photos, witness testimonies and any other relevant evidence. These documents can prove invaluable when filing a claim for compensation.
Consider other compensation avenues
In addition to insurance, New Jersey has a fund known as the Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund. This fund exists to compensate victims who suffer injury or property damage in a hit and run, or by an uninsured motorist and cannot obtain payment from other sources.
Following a hit and run, it can feel like the odds are against you, especially if the responsible party remains at large. However, by taking prompt action and utilizing available resources, you can significantly improve your chances of securing compensation.