What Should I Do Immediately Following a Hit and Run?

A hit-and-run is an incident in which one driver causes damage to another driver’s car, typically via collision and then immediately leaves the scene. Hit-and-run collisions occur when both drivers are present, or when only one driver is aware of the collision. For instance, a car that backs into you while reversing, then leaves, is a hit-and-run. However, so are circumstances when your car is damaged while in parking garages and open lots. This second class of hit and run causes more problems because one driver is unaware of who or when the incident occurred. This makes gathering details difficult and requires more witness testimony to obtain information.

Obtain Information

When another driver damages your car in a hit-and-run, first obtain several key pieces of information by doing the following:

  • Record Car Details. Jot down any details that you remember about the car that hit you. Some important pieces of information to keep an eye out for are: the other vehicle’s license plate number, their car make and model, the car’s color, and any other defining characteristics. This could be a unique sticker, decal, or an item present in either the front dashboard or back of the car. Lastly, if you can remember, keep track of which direction the car seemed to be driving toward, and whether the other car retained damaged from the collision as well. This damage is a defining characteristic.
  • Record what you remember. Keep a record of your account of the incident for the claim filing process. Take note of the cause of the incident, detailing what you experienced during the collision. Record the location of the incident, and the time that the incident took place. Sometimes our memory gets foggy during accidents, especially when trying to recall exact details about it in the future. Immediately recording your voice/video via phone, or using its notepad feature to give your account, will ensure that your recollection is as accurate as it could be.
  • Take pictures. Take pictures of any car damage incurred from the collision. If you possess pictures of your car from before the collision, keep those on file for comparison during the claims process. Take pictures of the location around the collision. Take pictures of any evidence of the collision, like skid marks on the ground. This counts as an extension of your record for the accident.
  • Search for witnesses. Ask potential witnesses for their account of the incident. An external party might remember more about the second car because they had a third-party vantage point. If witnesses seem to be leaving before you complete the previous three steps, politely ask if they can either wait or write down their information for further contact. If a witness provides a statement, record their name and contact information, and retain their account.

Report a Hit and Run

If an injury occurred during the hit-and-run, or you were in the vehicle during the incident, call the police. Otherwise, contact the police within 24 hours of the collision, or as soon as possible. A hit and run is a crime. If you don’t report the incident, insurance companies may consider the collision to be not-at-fault. The details gathered previously aid in this step, removing the need to search for information required to report the hit and run.

File an Insurance Claim

Hit and run incidents are often covered under the collision portion of car insurance policies. Although this type of collision is covered, they require you to pay a deductible just like any other collision. If not covered under collision insurance, a driver can try to file the incident under Direct Compensation Property Damage (DCPD) depending upon their location. However, DCPD requires a witness to help identify the car and associated driver. Without either of these coverage options, your insurance company will not pay for any damage caused by the incident to be repaired – it will come out of pocket.

Hit and runs will not impact insurance premiums if you reported the incident to the police and insurance company. However, this is only the case if the insurance company rules the collision as not-at-fault.