Victim of a Hit and Run? 5 Things You Can Do
If you’ve just been hit by a vehicle and the other driver has fled the scene, you’re now a victim of a hit and run.
A hit-and-run accident can happen when a driver hits another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a piece of property. In any case, the offending driver drives away without stopping and exchanging information, checking on the involved parties’ wellbeing, or waiting for law enforcement to arrive.
There are many scenarios where hit and run accidents are commonly seen. For example, it may happen while crossing an intersection, driving through a parking lot, or when your vehicle is parked on the road overnight.
No matter when or how it happens, a driver who commits a hit and run commits a crime. In Nevada, a hit-and-run that causes property damage is a misdemeanor. It can lead to a punishment of up to 6 months in jail or up to $1,000 in fines. However, a hit and run that results in an injury or death is a Class B felony. That can carry a punishment of up to 20 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
If you’ve been hit, either in your vehicle or while walking or riding a bike, here’s what to do to protect your legal right to pursue justice later on:
5 Steps to Take Immediately After You’re a Victim of a Hit and Run
- The first thing you need to do is stay at the scene; don’t leave!
Leaving the scene of a car accident is a crime. Even though the other driver has left, it’s important you call local law enforcement — or dial 911 immediately if there are any serious injuries. Before you worry about damage to your vehicle, make sure you receive prompt medical care for injuries you sustained from the accident. Make sure you keep copies of all the documentation you receive from the ER or your physician’s office. These records are invaluable in building a case later down the road; they show how you were treated and what injuries you sustained as a direct result of your hit-and-run accident.
- Next, if you’re able, assess the damage to your car and file a police report.
As soon as you can get your vehicle to a safe location, take photos of the damage to your car, or any other damage the driver left in their wake. When the police arrive at the scene, let them know you’d like to file a police report. This report can play a critical role in future legal proceedings, if you seek to recover damages from the at-fault driver. Also, even in minor accidents, insurance companies require a police report in order to file a claim for repairs. For a hit-and-run where the driver can’t be identified, your car insurance provider might cover some damages if you have uninsured motorist coverage, or you may be covered under under collision protection. However, insurance companies are notorious for avoiding responsibility when it comes to paying for damage after an accident. (That’s why having an experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer on your side will be invaluable.)
- Let police know any identifiable information about the driver who fled.
If you can, share the make, model, and color of the vehicle with them. Any other details — such as what direction they drove when they fled, noticeable bumper stickers, or information about the driver themselves — can be valuable in helping police locate the hit-and-run driver.
- Ask witnesses if they saw anything and can provide details to law enforcement, too.
If the accident happened near businesses or in a neighborhood, see if security cameras or video doorbells were in the vicinity; they may have footage of the accident or the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle.
- Finally, if you’re facing the consequences of a serious accident caused by a hit-and-run, call a personal injury lawyer right away.
After a traumatic and frustrating accident, it’s important you know your legal rights. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner they can guide you through this process and guarantee your words and actions are in your best legal interest. If your accident warrants a civil case, they will be able to help you file a lawsuit against the responsible driver and hold them accountable — not only their reckless or dangerous driving behavior, but their attempt to avoid responsibility by leaving the scene.
What type of attorney is qualified for a hit and run case?
The state of Nevada is responsible for pursuing criminal charges against the driver who hit you. But as a victim, you often also have the opportunity to pursue a civil injury case that is separate and unique from the criminal case. These types of cases may go to court, but they often end in settlements between the two parties. An experienced lawyer will be prepared and confident handling either situation.
While there are many personal injury attorneys in the state of Nevada, it’s important to select one that meets a few criteria:
- They have a history of successful settlements. Check that they have represented car accident victims who were in a similar situation to you. You want to work with an attorney who has been down this road before and knows what to do.
- They have a positive reputation in the community. Vet your attorney candidates carefully; read reviews of previous clients to determine their reputation and approach for handling a case.
- They make you feel comfortable and feel honest and transparent. Finally, call their office to speak to their team. You want to make sure you’re hiring a professional team that communicates clearly and can capably answer your questions and give you sound legal advice. Speaking with them will also help you determine whether or not you will feel comfortable with them — a factor that is incredibly important, but hard to pin down without speaking with the team.
Why Car Accident Victims in Las Vegas Choose Henness & Haight After a Hit and Run
In Nevada, Henness & Haight Injury Law is well-known for our frequent and successful representation of car accident victims. While nothing can reverse the pain and trauma of a serious accident, a fair settlement will lift the financial burden of medical care, car repairs, and counseling off your shoulders while holding the at-fault driver accountable. If you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident or have suffered after a vehicle accident in the Las Vegas area, we want to help you.
View our recent testimonials from clients we’ve represented, or call 702-805-HELP for a free consultation with our Las Vegas legal team.