What to Do if You Are Involved in a Hit-and-Run Accident
By Zachary Mushkatel on July 18, 2016
If another driver causes you to be involved in an auto accident in Arizona, your primary legal option is to file a claim against that driver. You might seek recovery of your property damage, medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other harm through the other driver’s liability insurance coverage.
When the driver who hits you flees the scene, however, the situation may become more complicated. This type of case typically is called a “hit-and-run accident.” In this article, we will discuss the laws that apply to hit-and-runs as well as what you should do if you are injured in a collision with a hit-and-run driver in the Phoenix area and how a car accident attorney can help you with your case.
Arizona Hit-and-Run Laws
Under Arizona law (A.R.S. § 28-663), it is against the law to “run” from the scene of an accident. The law requires any driver involved in a crash resulting in injury or death to provide to the other driver:
- His or her name and address
- Vehicle registration number
- Driver’s license information (if request).
The driver must also give “reasonable assistance” to any other person involved in the accident.
For these and many other reasons, you should always stay at the scene if you are involved in an auto crash.
Report Your Hit-and-Run Crash to the Police
If you are involved in a crash with a hit-and-run driver, you will need to report the accident. Calling 911 is usually the best first step. Upon arrival, a police officer will likely initiate an investigation to find the hit-and-run driver.
In some cases, your testimony and that of eyewitnesses may be enough to help the police to locate the driver shortly after the crash occurred.
If you are able to do so, take as many mental notes as you can about the other vehicle involved in the crash. Things to pay attention to include:
- The vehicle make and model
- The color of the vehicle
- The license plate number
- Any distinguishing features (like a large scrape on the side)
- Any physical features you can remember about the driver (such as gender, hair color or facial hair).
Write this information down and report it to the responding officer.
If you file a hit-and-run claim, having documentation of the medical care you received (and when you receive it) will be an important component of your case.
Report the Crash to Your Insurance Company
Remember, Arizona is an at-fault liability state. The driver who causes a crash should be the one to pay for your damages.
With that said, you should still report the accident to your own auto insurance company as soon as possible after the crash. In fact, your policy may have a provision that requires you to file a report within a certain number of days after you are involved in an accident.
In the event that the other driver cannot be found, insurance policies that may help to pay for your injuries include:
- Your own medical payments coverage – Many drivers in Arizona choose to carry medical payments coverage as part of their auto insurance package. As the Arizona Department of Insurance explains, this insurance pays for reasonable medical and funeral expenses following a crash – regardless of fault.
- Uninsured motorist coverage – If the other driver cannot be located – or if the driver is located and does not carry insurance or enough insurance – you may file a claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Unless you have rejected this coverage in writing, it should be available to you.
Notably, many drivers in hit-and-run crashes leave the scene because they do not carry insurance. As such, even if the driver is found, he or she may not carry a policy that will pay for your injuries. This is one reason why we strongly advise drivers to carry UM coverage.
Contact an Experienced Phoenix Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney
If you have been in an accident with a hit-and-run driver, you should contact an experienced Arizona car accident lawyer as well.
A car accident attorney can help you to understand your recovery options in the event that the driver cannot be located. The lawyer can also guide you through your rights to take legal action in the event that the driver is located.
At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, our Phoenix legal team knows the stress and complication associated with being involved in a hit-and-run accident. We will work hard to investigate your case and pursue all options available to you for seeking compensation for your losses. Contact us today to learn more.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.