What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident:
- Call the police. Tell them everything you know about the vehicle and the accident so that they can begin investigating.
- Get pictures of any damages and injuries.
- Call your insurance company and make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage. This will cover your damages if the driver is not found.
Consider Filing a Civil Claim:
If the driver is found, you can file a claim with his insurance to get your bills paid. If the driver does not have insurance (a common reason for leaving the scene of an accident) you will still be able to use your uninsured motorist coverage, but your insurance company will insist on his insurance paying if he does in fact have coverage.
If he does not have insurance, you also have the option of suing him for personal assets as well. This is only worth your time if he owns property or has significant assets, but doing an asset check might be a good idea if your medical bills are high or too costly for your uninsured motorist policy to cover (i.e. the bills are more than your policy limits).
The Criminal Side:
If the driver is found, they can be held accountable in a criminal case as well as a civil case. The civil case is meant to hold the bad driver financially accountable for their actions, while a criminal case is meant to punish them for breaking the law. So while the criminal case may bring you closure, the civil case will help pay your bills.
Differences between Civil and Criminal Cases in Hit and Run Accidents:
- Criminal case is prosecuted by the state, while a civil case is brought by the plaintiff (injury victim).
- The damages awarded in a civil case are monetary, while in a criminal case the punishment is usually community service, jail time, etc.
- In a criminal case, the state has to show proof that the defendant broke the law, while in a civil suit the plaintiff has to show that the bad driver caused the injury.