In California, all motorists involved in a crash are required to stop their vehicle and exchange information with other parties to the accident. Unfortunately, in reality, that does not always happen. According to federal highway safety data cited by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there are more than 725,000 hit-and-run collisions reported nationwide each year.
A car accident is stressful—a hit-and-run crash that leads to a serious injury can be especially difficult to deal with. Too many people make errors in the aftermath of a hit-and-run that undermines their own interests. Protect your rights. Here, our Stockton auto accident lawyer highlights five mistakes to avoid if you were hurt in a crash with a hit-and-run driver in California.
Mistake #1: Failing to Report the Hit-and-Run to State or Local Law Enforcement
One of the most critical steps to take after being involved in a hit-and-run accident is to report the incident to the police. If the other driver simply sped away without stopping, be sure to contact a state or local law enforcement agency, such as the Stockton Police Department or the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office. By law, all injury crashes in California should be reported. Beyond that, reporting a hit-and-run collision will create a formal record of the incident. The police report can serve as a key piece of evidence as you navigate the legal claims process.
Mistake #2: Not Seeking Professional Medical Attention for Injuries
Not seeking professional medical attention after a hit-and-run collision is another mistake people make. Even if you do not feel pain or see visible injuries, still seek medical attention. Some injuries, like whiplash, may not show up until hours or even days later. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are another type of relatively common car crash injury that can come with a delayed onset. Seeing a doctor as soon as possible after a hit-and-run is crucial for your own health and well-being.
There are also clear legal reasons to see professional medical attention as soon as possible after a serious hit-and-run accident. In California, you cannot bring an effective personal injury claim without reliable medical records. If you fail to seek professional care after a hit-and-run crash, you may not be able to get financial compensation for your injuries.
Mistake #3: Not Comprehensively Documenting the Hit-and-Run Crash
Another mistake people make is not comprehensively documenting the hit-and-run collision. It is essential to document the accident scene as soon as possible, which can include taking photos of the damage to your car, collecting witness statements, and recording any information you remember about the other driver. The more information you can gather, the stronger your case will be. A proactive approach is best when it comes to hit-and-run accident claims. Even a seemingly small piece of evidence—such as a partial license plate or the color of the vehicle—could lead to a major break later on in the claims process.
Mistake #4: Assuming that You Have No Options to Recover Financial Compensation
Some people assume that if the responsible driver fled the scene, they have no options to recover financial compensation. However, this is not the case. For example, if you have uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy, you can file a claim for compensation. In other cases, a negligent third party may bear partial responsibility for your crash. Further, through a comprehensive investigation, you may be able to track down the hit-and-run driver. Do not give up. An attorney can help you explore every possible legal option to get justice and financial compensation.
Mistake #5: Waiting Too Long to Get Professional Legal Representation
Following a hit-and-run crash in San Joaquin County, it is normal to have a lot of questions. You may not be sure what to do or where to turn to secure financial compensation for your damages. The sooner you have an experienced professional on your side, the better position that you will be in to get justice and full and fair financial compensation, including for damages like vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Consult with our Stockton hit-and-run accident lawyers right away after a serious crash. Waiting too long to seek the right legal representation can lead to missed deadlines, lost evidence, and an overall weaker case.
Contact a Car Accident Injury Attorney in Stockton Today
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton auto accident lawyers are standing by, ready to protect your rights every step of the way. If you or your family member was hurt in a hit-and-run crash, we are here as a legal resource. Contact us today for a free legal consultation. From our Stockton law office, our firm handles hit-and-run collision claims in San Joaquin County and beyond.