Following most collisions, drivers are required to stay at the scene of the accident. If it is safe to do so, drivers should exchange information with each other, and in many cases, it is best to contact law enforcement and have officers file a police report. However, there are some cases in which a driver flees the scene of a car accident. This may occur for a variety of reasons, including that a driver knew they were at fault for the collision and was afraid of the consequences they could face, or perhaps the driver was intoxicated and did not want to deal with additional legal citations. According to the AAA Foundation for Safety, over 2,000 Americans suffered fatal injuries in hit and run collisions in 2016, and thousands more suffered injuries that required significant medical attention. Bicyclists and pedestrians are especially at risk in these types of incidents, and they make up 65% of hit and run fatalities.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a driver who committed a hit and run, our personal injury attorneys can help you understand the options available to you for recovering compensation for your damages. An attorney may also be especially important if you were involved in a “miss and run” accident, meaning another driver’s behavior caused an accident without physically making contact with your vehicle. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine the critical and time-sensitive steps you must take immediately after a “miss and run” accident to be able to later recover compensation (the “miss and run” vehicle under Wisconsin law is known as a “phantom motor vehicle”).
Steps You Can Take After a Hit and Run Accident
Immediately following a collision, you will first want to attend to the medical needs of those who were involved. If necessary, you should call 911 for emergency medical assistance. When a police officer comes to the scene, you can relate to them any relevant details about the driver, including the license plate number, make, model, or color of the vehicle, as well as a description of what happened before, during, and after the collision. If possible, you can also get the contact information of any witnesses.
You will want to be sure to receive medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident. Even if the injuries sustained by you, your passengers, or those in other vehicles seem to be minor, you should receive an examination and follow the doctor’s instructions for treatment. In some cases, injuries such as whiplash can have delayed symptoms, and they can have serious, long-term health ramifications, especially if the proper treatment is not received.
In these situations, you will want to be sure to understand the insurance benefits you are eligible to receive. Your auto insurance policy may provide coverage for medical payments (med pay), or collision insurance may cover the costs of repairs to your vehicle. Your policy may also provide uninsured motorist coverage that will address your costs when the other driver cannot be identified, and the coverage may differ depending on whether your accident was a hit and run or a miss and run.
In a case involving a phantom motor vehicle, Wisconsin law requires that you must report the accident within 72 hours after it occurred; your claims must be corroborated by a person who is not making their own uninsured motorist claim against your uninsured carrier; and you must file a statement with your insurer (under oath) within 30 days.
You should contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible after being in an accident. Your attorney can gather evidence, including contacting witnesses and determining whether any nearby security cameras captured footage of the accident, and they may be able to work with police to identify the driver who fled the scene. Your lawyer can also use your medical records to demonstrate the short-term and long-term impact of your injuries, and they can speak to insurance companies on your behalf to negotiate a settlement that will fully meet your needs.
Contact an Appleton Hit and Run Accident Lawyer
At Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd., we understand how traumatic a car accident can be. We will do everything in our power to identify the other driver involved and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. To schedule a complimentary initial consultation with a knowledgeable Green Bay car accident attorney, call us today at 920-739-7366.
Wis. Stat. § 632.32(2)(g)2