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What to Do in a Hit-and-Run Accident in California

California law requires that drivers involved in collisions immediately stop their vehicles. Fleeing the scene is a criminal offense, and those charged could face time behind bars. What do you do if you were hit by a motorist who fled the scene? At the Law Office of Brian P. Azemika, we have negotiated many settlements for hit-and-run victims, and we know what steps can strengthen your legal claim. Below, our car accident lawyer provides his best tips.

At The Scene

You should remember to do the following:

1.       Immediately stop your car. You can’t flee the scene at the same time as the other driver, otherwise, you have also committed a crime.

2.       Identify as much of the license plate as possible. Try to get even one number or letter. Anything helps with identifying the vehicle that struck you.

3.       Remember other key details. You can share with the police information about the car’s make and model, as well as its color. If you saw the driver, also note the likely gender, as well as hair color, glasses, etc.

4.       Call the police. You should report the accident to the police. Share any details you have about the car or license plate number.

5.       Speak to witnesses. They can prove critical later. Many insurance companies wrongly believe hit-and-run victims crashed their own vehicles. Witnesses can help establish that another motorist really did hit you.

6.       Document physical evidence. A car that slams into yours might leave pieces behind. Look for pieces of glass or plastic. Also, there should be paint smears on your own car, which will help us identify the color of the vehicle.

After the Accident

A key consideration is whether you can receive any compensation for a hit and run. The answer depends on the type of insurance you have. If the police catch the driver, we can sue them or make a claim on their insurance. Otherwise, you might be left with seeking compensation from the following insurance:

  • Medical payments. This is optional insurance in California. It pays for medical treatment for any car-related injuries, regardless of fault for the crash.
  • Collision coverage. This insurance pays to fix your car up to the policy limit. It’s optional, but most car lenders require that you get it so long as you have a car loan. This is also no-fault insurance.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage. This insurance covers accidents where the driver who struck you lacked liability coverage. It is optional insurance, but you can use it for a hit-and-run to pay compensation for bodily injuries. An insurer must offer this coverage when they sell you a liability policy. Unlike med-pay and collision, this insurance is fault-based.

Remember to hang onto medical bills and any car repair bills. You will need to submit these to your insurers.

Call Our Car Accident Lawyer in Sacramento

This is a key step. Many motorists find that their insurer is not eager to pay for a hit-and-run crash. We might need to negotiate with them to get them to cut a check. Please call our law firm today to speak with a lawyer.