Getting into a car accident can be a terrifying and stressful ordeal. Yet, the accident itself is often only the beginning—after that, you may have to go to the hospital, undergo medical treatment, get your car repaired, and deal with insurance companies. This already elaborate process can become a lot more complicated if the motorist who caused your accident fled the scene before you could collect their contact information.
Leaving the scene of an accident, more commonly referred to as a hit and run, is a serious offense in New York State. Motorists have a legal requirement to identify themselves and offer aid following any kind of car accident, even a minor parking lot scrape. If they don’t, they could face serious consequences.
So, what can you do if someone hit your car and fled the scene before you could identify them? Can you still receive compensation to cover your accident expenses? Our Oneonta car accident attorneys explain what to do after a hit and run accident in New York.
New York Hit & Run Law
In New York, every motorist is legally required to do the following if they collide with a person or object while driving:
- Stop their car and check to see if anyone has been injured and/or if property damage occurred
- Exchange their contact and insurance information with other drivers or pedestrians involved
- Call the police and/or an ambulance if serious injuries or property damage has occurred and wait on the scene until a police report has been filed and completed
Two New York Vehicle & Traffic Law statutes define the requirements for what to do after a motor vehicle accident:
- VTL 600-1a: This statute applies to accidents in which only property damage has occurred and there have been no injuries. This law requires that motorists must share their license and insurance information with other drivers, but as long as no one was injured and the property damage seems minimal, calling the police is not a requirement.
- VTL 600-2a: This statute applies to accidents that involve injuries and/or serious property damage. All drivers involved must remain on the scene and wait until a police report has been filed; if the injuries appear serious, they must also call an ambulance and aid anyone in need if they can.
If someone doesn’t follow the above requirements and flees the scene, they can be criminally charged. Hit and run drivers may be faced with fines and jail time, the severity of which depends on how serious the injuries and property damage.
How to Receive Compensation Following a Hit & Run
If the driver flees the scene of an accident—or gives you false information that keeps you from identifying them—it may be impossible to find them, leaving you with nowhere to turn but your own insurance policy.
Fortunately, New York State requires drivers to be covered by no-fault insurance. This means that you can have any physical injuries covered by your no-fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy.
However, if your coverage isn’t adequate enough, or if you wish to be compensated for other damages—such as non-economic losses like pain and suffering—you will have to find the other driver and make a claim with their insurance. While this may be difficult, it is far from impossible.
Some steps you can take to attempt to locate the hit-and-run driver who caused your accident include:
- Don’t attempt to follow the at-fault driver if you witness them cause your crash—this could put you in danger as well as compromise the evidence that was left at the scene of the collision
- Contact the police and file a police report while the details of the accident are fresh in your mind
- Describe anything you can remember about the vehicle and individual who hit you, such as the car’s make, model, color, license plate number, and any bumper stickers, plus any identifying features of the driver, such as their gender, hair color, age, or anything else you were able to spot
- Take as many photographs of the accident scene as you can, especially of any property damage and injuries sustained by you or anyone else involved
- Talk to people nearby who witnessed the accident and ask proximate businesses if they have surveillance cameras installed—these may be able to give you more details about the hit and run driver and their vehicle
- Call your insurance company and file an accident report
- Contact a car accident lawyer to get additional help locating the at-fault driver
How a Hit & Run Accident Attorney Can Help with Your Claim
The Oneonta car accident lawyers at Scarzafava, Basdekis & Dadey, PLLC will conduct an investigation to gather evidence proving another driver was at fault. With the help of your testimony, witness accounts, surveillance footage, police work, and accident reconstructionists, we will do our best to help you locate the responsible driver so that you can secure the compensation you deserve.