Hit and runs are frustrating. If you’re lucky, however, then you may be able to get a license plate number from the other driver.
So you’ve been in a hit and run accident – but you have a license plate number. What next? How do you proceed? Today, we’re explaining the steps you should take after a hit and run if you have any information about the other driver.
Record All Information Possible
A hit and run occurs when another vehicle hits you and then leaves the scene. Some hit and runs occur against people: drivers might hit a pedestrian and then leave the scene. Other hit and runs occur on freeways, in parking lots, or anywhere else where collisions occur.
Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal. Unfortunately, many hit and run drivers get away with it.
If you were just in a hit and run accident, then the most important thing is to record any information about the vehicle you remember or were able to see, including:
- License plate number
- Color of the car
- Any physical characteristics of the driver
- Names and contact information of any witnesses who may have seen the accident
- Time, date, and location of the incident
- Damage to your vehicle, yourself, passengers, or pedestrians
If your vehicle was hit while driving, the first thing you should do is make sure everyone in your vehicle is safe. Then, pull over to a safe spot on the road. Talk to any witnesses – like a pedestrian – who may have seen the incident.
In other cases, you may not have witnessed the accident whatsoever. A hit and run driver might have hit your parked car and then left the scene. In this situation, you may have limited information to collect. Nevertheless, it’s important to talk to people around the scene to determine if they saw anything. Consider asking local businesses for any security camera footage they may have.
Remember to take photos of your vehicle and the accident location if it’s safe to do so.
Once you’ve collected as much information as possible, it’s time to report the incident to police.
Reporting the Incident to Police
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense. The other driver will face serious consequences for leaving the scene – but only if the other driver is caught.
The first step towards prosecuting the other driver is to make a police report. Give the police all of the information you can about the incident. The more information you provide, the higher chances the other driver will be caught.
Contact the police immediately after the accident. If it’s a serious accident, then the police may come directly to the accident scene. Even with minor accidents, however, the police may arrive at the location of your vehicle to collect information.
The police report will ask for all relevant information about the other vehicle and driver. If you have the license plate number, then provide that number to the police. Typically, a license plate number can easily be connected to a person and address.
Unfortunately, many hit and run drivers use stolen cars. Don’t automatically assume the person registered to the license plate was driving the car at the time of the collision.
Insurance companies require a police report for hit and run claims. This is to prevent fraudulent claims.
Reporting the Incident to your Insurance Company
Hit and run accidents will be handled under your own insurance company – even though the other driver is at fault. In fact, hit and run incidents are the only accidents where you’re required to pay your collision deductible even though you’re not at fault.
Report the incident to your insurance company. In most cases, for a legitimate hit and run claim, you’ll be required to pay your deductible and nothing else. Some insurance companies, however, will actually waive your deductible for a hit and run.
Your hit and run claim will be handled under your collision coverage. If you don’t have collision coverage and only have basic liability coverage, then your hit and run will not be covered under your insurance policy.
What to Do With the License Plate Number?
If you have the license plate number of the other driver, then you can typically get a name and address from that license plate number.
We assume you also provided the license plate number to the police in your police report. In that case, let the police do their work and track down the other driver.
You may also wish to provide the license plate number to your own insurance company. They can use the other driver’s contact information to contact the other driver. Using this information, they can determine the other driver’s car insurance company, then pursue the claim with the other driver’s car insurance company.
Ultimately, many people are victims of hit and runs and have no information about the other driver or vehicle.
If you have the license plate number of the other vehicle, then consider yourself fortunate: tracking down the driver of the other vehicle should be straightforward for you, the police, and your car insurance company. By tracking down the other driver, you can process the claim through the other driver’s insurance company while also getting the satisfaction of seeing a hit and run driver brought to justice.