The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that over 682,000 hit-and-run accidents happen each year in the United States. The sudden shock and confusion of a hit-and-run accident can leave anyone bewildered.
Unfortunately, this type of incident happens more often than one might think. As a driver or pedestrian in New Jersey, it is important to know the steps to take in the wake of a hit and run.
Immediate actions post-accident
The moments after the accident are important. Prioritize your safety above all else. If it is safe to do so and you are capable, move to a safe location away from the flow of traffic. Turning on your hazard lights can alert other drivers to the situation.
Contact the authorities
Always report a hit-and-run to the police, regardless of the severity. When they arrive, provide them with as much information as possible. This might include the make and model of the car, the license plate number (even if you only caught a partial), the direction in which the car fled and a description of the driver if you saw them. Witness accounts can also be beneficial, so if anyone stopped to help or if they observed the accident, ask them to stay and give a statement to the police.
Document the scene
Use your phone or a camera to take photos of the accident scene. Capture different angles, show the damage to your vehicle and photograph any skid marks or other relevant evidence on the road. If you have visible injuries, photograph them as well.
Seek medical attention
Even if you feel fine, you should see a doctor after a hit-and-run accident. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately. By seeking medical attention, you ensure your health and also create a record of any injuries related to the accident.
Notify your insurance company
Contact your insurance company and inform them about the hit and run. They will guide you on the next steps, including how to file a claim. In New Jersey, uninsured motorist coverage can help cover damages from a hit and run, but policies vary, so familiarize yourself with your specific coverage.
A hit-and-run accident in New Jersey can be a daunting experience, but by following these steps, you can ensure your safety and take appropriate action. Being prepared can make a world of difference, both in ensuring your safety and in properly addressing the situation.