Witnesses and Victims of Hit-and-Run Accidents
Car wrecks often happen unexpectedly and can cause catastrophic injuries, property damage, and in worst-case scenarios, fatalities. Hit-and-run accidents can be even more devastating. After 911 is called, victims may be fighting for their lives. What happens to people who witness these accidents, though? What is the best course of action to take if you witness a hit-and-run accident?
Initial Steps to Take
Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in most cases, and witnesses play essential roles in providing unbiased information; they are not required by law to do so, but it is valuable for accident victims, law enforcement officers, and insurance companies.
The first thing to do after the crash is to look for injuries and damages; then, 911 should be called from a safe distance. Witnesses must put their own safety first as there could be dangerous combustibles and fluids leaking. Accident victims could also be violent, especially if under the influence or in pain. Moving an accident victim is never a good idea as it could worsen their injuries. Once the paramedics arrive, they will handle things safely and properly.
Witnesses are asked to complete statements after police arrive and will need to answer questions about their contact information, the vehicle’s license plate, color, make and model, a description of the driver, and time and place of the crash. A description of what happened will also need to be completed.
In some cases, hit-and-run accidents happen to unattended cars. Witnesses can leave notes on the dashboards and include their contact information.
What Not to Do
Most state traffic laws mandate that a driver involved in a car accident must remain at the scene, and get medical help and wait for the police, depending on whether the crash caused injuries, deaths, or property damage. Not doing so can lead to criminal charges. Therefore, some hit-and-runs witnesses may feel compelled to chase after fleeing drivers. This is never recommended, for several reasons:
- Injured parties may need immediate medical attention.
- Fleeing drivers could be a threat if they are under the influence, aggressive, or violent.
- It could turn into a high-speed pursuit, leading to another accident.
- If considerable time elapses, witnesses may not be able to recall the accident details.
Witnesses should remain calm and not risk their own safety by pursuing a hit-and-run driver, it is best left to law enforcement.
Victims of Hit-and-Run Accidents
Hit-and-run victims can be left in highly precarious situations when drivers flee. Not knowing the liable party’s identification makes financial recovery difficult. Victims must often turn to their own car insurance providers for compensation. In Washington, D.C., the minimum requirements are:
- Property damage liability: $10,000
- Third-party liability: $25,000 per person to $50,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person to $50,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist property damage: $5,000
In Maryland, the requirements are:
- Bodily injury: $30,000
- Bodily injury for two or more persons: $60,000
- Property damage: $15,000
In the case of a hit-run-accident, uninsured motorist coverage may be the primary source of compensation.
Prince George’s County Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Are Experienced with Hit-and-Run Accidents
The trauma of a hit-and-run accident can last a lifetime, but our skilled Prince George’s County car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King are ready to help you. For a free consultation, call us at 202-331-1963 or complete our online form.
Located in Washington, D.C, we help victims in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, and Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.