What to Do After a Hit and Run
Knowing what to do after a hit and run helps safeguard your health and your right to seek compensation for resulting injuries, expenses, and losses. The first step after a hit-and-run accident that results in serious injuries in Chicago, Illinois, is contacting emergency medical responders. Even if you suffer minor injuries, do not fail to seek medical attention. If there are witnesses at the accident scene, collect their statements. These statements will come in handy when filing your claim. If you can, document all the details of the accident scene.
Do not chase after the vehicle fleeing from the accident scene. Doing this may lead to unintended consequences, as the person may be hostile. Ensure that you stay at the accident scene until a police officer arrives. The exception to this is when you are seriously injured. A hit-and-run accident might leave you with injuries, damages, and other losses. A seasoned auto accident attorney can maximize your odds of recovering the full extent of your damages.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a motorist involved in an accident flees from the scene. In Chicago, Illinois, it is illegal to flee an accident scene. The expected conduct after an accident is that all parties involved should stop at or near the accident scene to render help and exchange details about each other for easier claim filing.
You may ask, “Why would one party flee after an accident?” A motorist may escape the accident scene if he or she fears getting arrested for negligent actions. Some drivers also flee to avoid taking responsibility for their reckless behavior when driving the most dangerous roads for cyclist and motorists in Chicago. Others leave the crash scene because they are underinsured, uninsured, lack a driver’s license, or do not have permission to drive the vehicle from the owner.
Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Chicago
Get Medical Care for Possible Injuries
Seek medical help shortly after getting in a hit-and-run accident. You are prone to injuries after a car accident of any nature. Get evaluated by a doctor, even if you feel or think you are okay after an accident.
Some serious injuries, such as internal bleeding, are invisible to the naked eye. Only a medical professional can give you a clean bill of health. Explain to the doctor where you are feeling pain in your body. Do not leave any details out, even if they may appear minor.
The insurance company may deny your claim if you fail or delay seeing a doctor after a car accident. The medical report you obtain from a doctor is crucial evidence during the claim process.
Report the Accident
Call the local police to report the crash if your injuries allow you to do so. Alternatively, request anyone at the scene to help you make the call. This step ensures that you will get a copy of the police report after the police visit the accident scene, collect evidence, and compile a report. The police report can form part of your evidence in an uninsured motorist claim if you cannot identify the hit-and-run driver.
Gather Witness Details
Collect details of eyewitnesses at the accident scene who may be willing to record a statement or testify in court. The details to collect include their names, email addresses, and phone contacts. Your attorney will need to contact those witnesses and interview them to gather watertight evidence against the negligent party.
Witness statements are crucial in identifying the at-fault party in an accident. Witnesses can provide information regarding the driver or vehicle that fled the accident scene. Be sure to notify the police of witnesses present at the accident scene.
Document Evidence at the Scene
Write down the details of the car that hit you and fled. It can be details like the license plate number, make, model, color, or any other conspicuous car feature. Take pictures and record details of any damage to your vehicle or personal property. You can capture the details on your phone or in a notebook. The details you capture can help speed up the identification and arrest of the negligent driver.
Avoid Chasing the Car
Avoid the temptation to chase down the car fleeing the accident scene. You may increase your risk of getting into another accident and suffering additional injuries if you chase the other driver. The other driver may be hostile and inflict more injuries. Additionally, you may miss witnesses if you choose to chase the other party.
Stay at the Accident Scene
Do not leave the accident scene until police arrive. The only exception is when leaving in an ambulance to seek medical attention. You may face criminal charges if you fail to stay at the accident scene. The police will treat you the same way as the fleeing driver.
Hire a Hit-and-Run Attorney
Hiring a car accident attorney after getting involved in a hit-and-run is a wise decision. Your attorney will gather key evidence and witness statements to establish the at-fault party. In addition, the attorney can help you find the driver who fled the accident scene. Your attorney will still guide you on filing an uninsured motorist claim if the other driver proves hard to find.
Understanding Illinois Hit and Run Laws
Laws touching on hit-and-run accidents in Illinois are contained in Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS). If you are involved in a car accident that results in injuries or property damage, you must stop near the accident scene. The law requires parties involved in an accident to exchange crucial information to facilitate communication and claims processing. You must render help, including first-aid and calling emergency medical responders, if there are injured parties at the accident scene.
The law requires drivers involved in accidents that result in death, injury, or property damage exceeding $1,500 to file a report. Your license may get suspended if you fail to file the hit-and-run accident report within ten days.
A driver who flees from an accident scene may face misdemeanor or felony charges. The seriousness of the charges depends on whether the hit-and-run accident led to injuries.
How Do Insurance Claims Work for a Hit-and-Run Accident?
When the police arrest the fleeing driver, you can file a claim with his or her insurance provider. Searching for the fleeing driver is not police work alone – your lawyer may also help track down the driver. If the fleeing driver is not found, you can still get compensation by your insurance provider. In this case, your options for recovering compensation include:
Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
Illinois law requires all auto insurance policies to incorporate uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This coverage pays for any injuries or property damages resulting from a crash involving an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
You qualify for compensation regardless of who is at fault for the accident if you have personal injury protection coverage. The compensation amount you can recover depends on your specific policy.
Financial Impact of an Accident
Getting involved in a hit-and-run accident can result in serious injuries. These injuries may directly lead to loss of wages and sometimes future earning capacity. As an injured victim, you will also bear huge costs on medical bills. Your lawyer can help you determine a compensation amount that fully addresses the implications of your injuries in your life. The lawyer can also share insights on how to prevent pedestrian fatalities.
Types of Damages for a Hit-and-Run Victim
A hit-and-run victim may suffer economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are quantifiable. In other words, you can put a dollar value on economic damages. They include medical costs, wage loss, and property damage. On the other hand, non-economic damages are not easily quantifiable. They include pain and suffering, embarrassment from scars, and emotional distress. The value of your claim depends on the total amount of losses incurred.
How Long Do You Have to File a Hit-and-Run Claim in Chicago?
You have two years to bring a hit-and-run lawsuit against a motorist who flees the accident scene. You also have two years to start an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance provider if efforts to identify or locate the at-fault driver are unsuccessful. The two-year deadline for both cases starts from when the accident happened or when you discovered or should have discovered your injuries.
You have one year to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit if you lost a loved one in a hit-and-run crash. The “timer” for the one-year time limit starts from the date of death.
How Long Does a Hit-and-Run Case Take to Resolve?
While there is no set time for how long hit-and-run claims take in Illinois, the average time for settling ranges from 30 days to six months. If your case proceeds to trial, you may have to wait two years or longer to receive compensation.