When there is a car accident, even a minor one, both drivers are expected to stop and exchange information and may be required to call the police. Unfortunately, there are times when one driver flees the scene.
If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you should consider contacting our Silver Spring auto accident lawyers for a free consultation. We may be able to help you pursue compensation for damages.
Besides contacting a lawyer, there are several other steps you can take after a hit-and-run accident to try to protect your claim.
A hit-and-run collision occurs when either driver involved in the accident leaves the scene without seeing if the other driver is injured, calling the police, or exchanging information, such as his or her:
- Full name
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration
- Name of insurance company
This information must be given to the owner of any property damaged in the accident, anybody who was injured in the accident, and any law enforcement officials investigating the collision.
Do Not Chase the Other Car
When emotions run high, it can be tempting to pursue the hit-and-run driver. This is a bad idea. You are risking getting into another accident, one which you could be found at-fault for. You also do not know what the driver is fleeing. Maybe he or she has a warrant out for his or her arrest and is trying to avoid the police.
There are other steps you can take to try to protect your claim instead of chasing the other car. For example, write down any part of the license plate that you can see or remember. Also write down the color, make, and model of the car. It is important to do this quickly because you might forget later.
Call the police. If you have someone in the car with you, you may want to have them do it. They may be a little calmer and less emotional.
Talk to Witnesses
They may have seen the license plate and remember other details about the car or what the driver looks like. These details could be the difference between police finding the driver and him or her getting away.
It is important to record their contact information so that you or your attorney can get in touch with them later.
Call the Police
Always call the police after a hit-and-run accident. If you have information about the car the police may be able to send an officer to find the fleeing driver. It is also important to call the police so they can come to the scene and file a report, which will be an important document for your insurance claim.
Insurance Coverage for Hit-and-Run Accidents
All car insurance policies in Maryland are required to have uninsured motorist coverage, which provides compensation to the policyholder in an accident with an uninsured driver, or one who flees the scene.
The minimum amounts of coverage are $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for bodily injury and $15,000 for property damage.
If the police cannot locate the driver, you may be able to fall back on this coverage for your damages. If the police find the other driver, and he or she has insurance, you may be able to file a claim against that coverage.
As these situations can be very complicated, it is important to discuss insurance coverage for a hit-and-run with a trusted lawyer.
What is the Penalty for Hit-and-Run Drivers?
The state of Maryland has severe penalties to discourage drivers from fleeing the scene of an accident. According to the Maryland Code of Transportation Section 27-113, if the accident causes serious bodily injury and a driver leaves, he or she can be charged with a felony that comes with a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
If the accident caused death, the fleeing driver can be charged with a felony and face up to 120 months of jail time and a fine up to $10,000.
If the other driver is not seriously injured, the fleeing driver can have eight to 12 points added to his or her driver’s license. There can also be fines and prison time.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer for Assistance
If you were the victim of a hit-and-run or other kind of auto accident, you should consider seeking qualified legal help. The lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan can determine if you may have a case and what it may be worth.
If you hire our firm, we can investigate the crash and determine what insurance compensation may be available. We work on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we win on your behalf.