What to Do if the Other Driver Doesn’t Report the Accident

Getting into a car accident is stressful enough without having to deal with the other driver not reporting it properly or even at all. Unfortunately, this happens more often than one would think. Hit-and-run accidents are on the rise, with fatal hit-and-run accidents up 89.4% from 2012-2021, with 2,783 crashes recorded where a driver fled the scene. 7% of all fatal crashes in 2021 involved hit-and-runs, compared to 4.7% in 2012. 

Many accidents happen at night, with a 2012 study finding drivers were 4.4x more likely to flee the scene of an accident between midnight and 4 AM. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, your best bet is to find an experienced car accident lawyer to help you through the claims process and get fair compensation.

If you find yourself in this situation, here is what you should do.

File a Report Yourself

Even if the other driver refuses to file an accident report, it is imperative that you file one yourself as soon as possible with the local police department. Be sure to provide all pertinent details like the date, time, and location of the accident, a description of what happened, any injuries or vehicle damage sustained, and the other driver’s name, contact information, license plate number, and insurance details if you were able to attain them. Having an official report from your perspective on file will be crucial for insurance claims and possible legal action.

Note that California has the dubious honor of recording the most hit and run crashes. This means you might end up having to deal with long wait times when you go to the police station. If you decide to tackle the process alone, the best thing to do is to take a free day off from work to be sur eyou can report it. 

Consult an Attorney

Even if you hope to ultimately settle things directly you’re your insurance company, you should contact an attorney. They have extensive knowledge of state traffic laws and experience handling these types of situations and claims. They can advise you on steps for establishing liability, preserving evidence, documenting communication with the other driver and insurers, and getting fairly compensated for any damages or injuries you have faced. Should matters escalate legally in any way, you will be glad to already have representation lined up on your side.

Car accident attorneys are often regarded to as being useless in such processes. This is completely incorrect. When dealing with a situation in which the other driver involved in the accident is not interested in dealing with the legality of their actions, a lawyer will be very useful and valuable. Their knowledge can help gain the compensation you are entitled to and can even help you to deal with the insurance providers after the accident happens and you need vehicle repairs done. 

Contact Your Insurance Provider

Notify your auto insurance provider, even if you do not plan to file a claim. Provide them with a copy of the accident report you filed and inform them that the other driver did not stay at the scene or file their own report.

We should add that it is important to be careful when you discuss potential compensation with your insurance provider. There is a pretty good possibility that the claims adjuster will want to close the claim as soon as they can. This is usually done with a lower amount offered than what is actually possible. Make sure to discuss the terms with the car accident lawyer to double check the benefits you are offered are actually what you are entitled to. 

Gather Evidence

Any evidence you can collect related to the accident will bolster your version of events. Take pictures of damage to your vehicle, the scene itself if applicable, any injuries you sustained, and the license plate of the other vehicle if you were able to safely acquire it. Get contact info for any witnesses who saw the accident take place. 

Whenever possible, try to also take a video of the accident. You can use your smartphone for that. Video proof has proven itself as being really effective in helping prove what happened after a collision. Even if you do not use the video for the police investigation, it will still be very useful when you talk to insurance adjustors. 

Follow Up on Any Applicable Charges

Depending on the severity of the accident and laws in your state, you may be able to have charges filed against the other motorist for things like leaving the scene without providing proper documentation or contact information. Reach out to your insurance adjuster and the police to find out your options for pursuing relevant charges and penalties so that the other driver faces the deserved consequences for their negligent actions. Having a paper trail showing your efforts here can only help your own legal standing.

Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can leave victims feeling frustrated and powerless. However, taking the proactive measures outlined here will put you back in control of responsibly handling matters going forward. As daunting as it seems, there are around 400k car accident lawsuits filed each year, so staying calm, being thorough, and seeking help from qualified professionals will get you the resolution you deserve.