Being the victim of an automobile accident can be devastating – physically, emotionally, and financially. That’s particularly true in accidents where the motorist flees the scene without taking responsibility for his or her actions. In Wisconsin, leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense. Depending on the damage and injuries that occur, hit-and-run drivers can face misdemeanor or felony charges in addition to jail time and hefty monetary fines.
Regardless of whether the driver is ultimately located, hit-and-run accident victims can be left with costly property damage and debilitating physical and emotional injuries. If you were involved in a hit and run accident, knowing what to do after the fact can help hold the wrongdoer responsible and preserve the victim’s rights to compensation for their losses.
Steps to Take at the Scene of the Accident
There is a lot of valuable evidence at the scene of a hit-and-run accident, even though the responsible motorist is not there in person. Take these steps to preserve that evidence:
- Report the accident. File a police report while still at the accident scene, if possible. This is a critical step in documenting that the accident actually occurred. The police report can help convince insurance companies that claims for losses are legitimate.
- Gather witness statements. Talk to anyone who witnessed the accident, gathering their contact information including names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Witnesses may have valuable information you may not have noticed, such as the make, model, and color of the vehicle, and even the license plate number or other identifying information about the perpetrator’s car or truck.
- Document the crash. If it is safe to do so, take photos or videos of the accident scene, showing the damage to your vehicle, and the extent of the victim’s injuries if those injuries are obvious.
What to Do After Leaving the Accident Site
The steps you take after leaving the scene of the accident are important too:
- Seek medical attention. It is important to seek qualified medical help after a hit-and-run accident. Some car accident injuries are not readily apparent, so visiting a medical provider can help make sure you get the care you need – even if you don’t know you need it yet. These medical visits also serve as powerful evidence and documentation to support your personal injury claim.
- Don’t post about your accident. While you may be used to posting things about your life on social media sites, think twice before posting about your hit-and-run accident. Insurance companies and attorneys for the responsible driver, if ultimately located, could try to twist and use your words against you later.
- Contact your own insurance company to report the collision. If you have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your auto insurance, this may be the only way to recover compensation for your injuries.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. A Wisconsin hit-and-run accident attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Every case is unique, but your attorney will help you fight for payment of your medical expenses, damage to your vehicle, and even lost wages as the result of the accident. Don’t wait too long to contact an attorney; hit-and-run accident claims are time-sensitive.
GCW Lawyers are Here to Help
At Gingras, Cates & Wachs, our experienced personal injury attorneys are committed to helping accident victims obtain the compensation they are legally entitled to. We know how devastating hit-and-run accidents can be. We’ll handle your case with compassion, fighting diligently for your rights.
To learn more and to schedule a case consultation in our Madison, Milwaukee, or Eau Claire offices, contact us today.