Hit and run accidents are any car accident where a driver leaves the scene on purpose, and without leaving contact information.
That could mean someone side-swiping your vehicle at an intersection and speeding off, or a driver colliding with your car in a busy parking lot while you're shopping.
Because hit and runs can be even more surprising or confusing than normal accidents, there are a few nuances to be aware of if you find your car damaged and the other guy speeding off into the sunset.
The nature of a hit and run makes it extremely difficult to identify the other driver, but as always, that's one of our first goals.
Your initial reaction is to get angry or frustrated, but keeping a cool head is one of the best ways to pick up info we'd normally miss.
If possible, try to determine the license plate number, make and model of the car that hit you.
If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information.
And before leaving the scene yourself, take time to record the date and time of the accident, and also take pictures of both your car and the surroundings, making sure to capture specific damage in detail.
Contact the Police
Never chase after another driver—your odds of causing another accident outweigh the benefits of actually catching the other person.
Instead, file a police report and be sure to include the names of any witnesses you gathered.
Having an official accident report can expedite the claims process with your insurance company, even if they never catch the other driver.
File a Hit and Run Claim
Successfully identifying the responsible driver means you can file a claim as usual with their insurance company.
Even if you couldn't identify the driver (or if the driver did not have coverage), you can still open a claim with your own insurance company.
Be sure to ask your insurer about the details—your deductible may be waived, and hit and run accidents may also have no effect on your rates.
Keep a Cool Head
The biggest issue with hit and run accidents is the indignity and anger we feel that someone tried to make a getaway without taking responsibility for their actions.
That hotheadedness has led many drivers to seek retribution on their own, or forget important details that could have made their claim process much smoother.
If you're a victim of a hit and run, take stock of the situation and be glad you weren't seriously injured. At least cars can be fixed.