A hit-and-run accident is when a driver gets involved in a car accident but fails to stop at the scene as required by state law. Fleeing the scene of a car accident can be extremely dangerous for a victim, as paramedics may not be called to the scene or notified in time to perform life-saving measures. If you get into a hit-and-run car accident in Arizona, take the following steps to ensure the protection of your rights.
Stay Calm and Assess
Although any car accident can be stressful and overwhelming, do your best to remain calm after a hit-and-run. Keeping a clear head can help you do what is necessary to protect yourself. Pull over as close to the scene of the crash as possible. Check yourself and your passengers to see if anyone is injured. If there are injuries, call 911 immediately to request medical assistance.
Contact the Police
After any hit-and-run accident in Arizona, no matter how minor, contact the police. The police can conduct a complete investigation and gather evidence that could help identify the hit-and-run driver. Call 911 while you are still at the scene of the accident and give the reporting officer as much information as you can about the crash without admitting fault. This may include a description of the other vehicle and driver, the vehicle make and model, any license plate numbers you saw, and the direction the vehicle was traveling. Ask for your police report number before you leave so you can request a copy later.
Talk to Witnesses
If anyone witnessed the hit-and-run accident, talk to them. Write down their names and phone numbers. Ask if they would be willing to give a written or recorded statement later for insurance purposes. The police can also speak to witnesses to include their information in the police report.
Seek Medical Attention
Always go to a hospital after a car accident in Arizona. Even if you do not notice injuries right away, your adrenaline from the collision could be masking pain. Seeking medical attention can ensure that you get the care you need for injuries such as broken bones, a concussion, whiplash, cuts and scrapes, and burns. It can also help you build a car insurance claim, as your insurance company will check to see if you mitigate your losses by seeing a doctor.
Contact Your Car Insurance Company
Contact your own car insurance company to report the car accident as soon as possible. Arizona is a fault-based insurance state, meaning the person or party at fault for a car accident is who must pay for the damage. In a hit-and-run crash, however, the at-fault driver may have fled the scene before being identified. This could leave you with no other option but to seek financial reimbursement from your own insurance provider.
Unfortunately, first-party insurance is not a legal requirement in Arizona. Unless you purchased more than the minimum required amount of car insurance, you may not have the right type of coverage to pay for your own medical bills and property repairs after a hit-and-run. Contact your insurer to ask if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, which can pay for a hit-and-run accident. Your health insurance or collision coverage may also offer compensation. If you do not have first-party insurance, you may be able to file a lawsuit against a third party in certain circumstances.
Consult With an Arizona Car Accident Attorney
Before you accept a quick insurance settlement from your provider or give up on the possibility of filing a claim entirely, consult with an experienced car accident attorney in Arizona. An attorney can review your hit-and-run accident case and explore your potential legal options. You may have grounds to hold a third party responsible, for example, such as the government for a road defect that contributed to the crash. Contact The Law Offices of John Phebus to discuss a recent hit-and-run accident with one of our attorneys for free.