Most hit-and-run car accidents happen suddenly and can leave the people involved feeling a bit shocked. In some cases, the person who is responsible for causing the accident may panic and flee the scene in an effort to avoid taking responsibility for the crash. Not only is this extremely irresponsible and thoughtless, it is also illegal.
If the other motorist suffered serious injuries, leaving the scene of the accident without reporting the accident could prevent the injured person from getting the immediate medical attention they need. This could cause the injuries to become life-threatening or even fatal.
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents are particularly problematic in Philadelphia. In fact, the Philadelphia Police Department receives close to 40 hit-and-run calls each day. In 2017 to 2018, there were almost 29,000 reports of hit-and-runs. Roosevelt Boulevard had more hit-and-run accidents than any other location in Pennsylvania. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a hit-and-run accident occurs every 60 seconds in the United States. Many of these accidents cause life-threatening, even fatal injuries.
In some cases, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing the right steps to take after a hit-and-run car accident. While it may be tempting to chase after the driver who fled the accident scene, this is extremely dangerous for a number of reasons. If you are pursuing the other driver in a high-speed chase, you are probably going to be driving at a dangerously high speed. In addition, if you do catch up to the other driver, you never know if that person is going to be armed or become physically aggressive towards you. Instead of acting impulsively, taking the following steps will be much safer and increase your chances of collecting important evidence that will help your case going forward:
- Call 911: Notify dispatch that you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident. A police officer will arrive at the scene as soon as possible. They will fill out a police report and attempt to track down the driver who fled the scene. If you were injured, let the dispatcher know so they can send emergency medical personnel to the scene, treat your injuries, and transport you to the nearest emergency room if necessary.
- Collect information: Gather as much information as you can about the other vehicle before the other driver flees the scene, including the make and model of the car, the license plate number, a general description of the car, and the direction the vehicle was heading as it drove away. Take photos of the accident scene as well.
- Talk to witnesses: If there are witnesses who saw the accident happen, they may be able to provide valuable information about the vehicle. For example, if the accident occurred near a bus stop, a construction site, or a crowded intersection, there may have been a number of witnesses who could provide information about the make and model of the vehicle and the direction the vehicle went after fleeing the scene. Once you have identified potential witnesses, ask if they would be willing to provide an official statement, and collect their contact information as well.
What Are the Hit-And-Run Laws in Pennsylvania?
Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code addresses the laws concerning hit-and-run accidents. You must do the following after an accident:
- Stop your vehicle at the accident scene or as close to the scene as possible.
- Provide your name, address, registration number, and driver’s license number to the other motorist, or leave a note with that information if the vehicle that was hit is unoccupied.
- Provide assistance to any motorists who have been injured.
According to Pennsylvania law, motorists are required to file an accident report within five days of an accident if it was not investigated by police and the accident caused serious injuries, fatalities, or severe property damage. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver’s Accident Report form must be filled out and mailed to the address on the form. The following information must be included on the form:
- Name, address, and phone numbers of all individuals involved in the accident.
- Make, model, and style of the vehicles involved.
- License plate numbers.
- Vehicle identification numbers (VIN).
- Description of the damage.
- Insurance policy numbers of the motorists involved.
What Would Cause a Motorist to Flee the Scene of an Accident?
You never know what is going through someone’s mind when they are in a car accident, particularly if they were responsible for causing the crash. The following are examples of some of the reasons why people flee the scene of a car accident:
- The at-fault motorist is driving with a suspended license.
- The vehicle was stolen.
- The at-fault driver is uninsured.
- The at-fault driver was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident.
- The driver did not realize they hit another vehicle.
- There is an outstanding warrant for the at-fault driver’s arrest.
How Do I Collect Financial Compensation After a Hit-And-Run Accident?
In Pennsylvania, motorists have the option of purchasing no-fault insurance, which often covers the cost of injuries caused by a car accident, regardless of who caused the crash. If you have fault-based insurance, things get a bit more complicated when it comes to collecting compensation for your injuries, particularly if you never find the hit-and-run driver.
Your insurance company may provide coverage if you purchased certain optional coverage, including the following:
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage: This provides coverage for property damage and injuries that you and any other passengers in your vehicle sustained as a result of a hit-and-run accident.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage: This type of insurance provides up to $10,000 in coverage, regardless of who caused the accident.
- MedPay coverage: This provides medical coverage for you and your passengers, regardless of who was at fault.
What Is the Deadline for Filing a Claim After a Hit-And-Run Accident?
Hopefully, the police, along with help from your lawyer, will be able to track down the hit-and-run driver. If they are found, you may be able to file a personal injury claim with their insurance provider or a lawsuit against them. If the driver is not found, and you have fault-based insurance, your policy still might provide compensation.
If you are able to file a personal injury claim, note that you have limited time to do so. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim after a hit-and-run accident is two years from the date of the crash. If the accident resulted in a fatality, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the person’s death.
If you file a claim after the statute of limitations has passed, it is highly unlikely that the claim will be approved. A dedicated car accident lawyer will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that your claim is filed well before the deadline.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Clients Injured in Hit-And-Run Accidents
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, it is in your best interest to contact one of our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC as soon as possible. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the hit-and-run accident and will protect your rights. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 215-569-8488 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, Media, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, we proudly represent clients throughout the surrounding areas.