Steps to Take Following a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident in Rhode Island, consider following these steps:
- Call 911. First, you should immediately call the police and wait for them to arrive on the scene. The police might be able to track down the hit-and-run driver right away. Even if you couldn’t get a good look at the vehicle, it’s still wise to contact law enforcement and report the accident. When police officers arrive on the scene, they will create an accident report, which is an official record of the accident. You will need a copy of this document if you plan to file an insurance claim.
- Seek medical attention. You should seek medical attention right away. Some injuries, such as internal injuries, don’t immediately show symptoms. If left untreated, they could lead to life-threatening complications.
- Collect evidence. If you can, you should take photos of your injuries, any damage to your vehicle, and the accident scene from various angles. Make sure to get close-up and wide shots. If you can get a picture of the car that hit you before they’re able to drive off, that could also be incredibly beneficial in helping police officers track the driver down. Even making a mental note of part of the car’s description and license plate number could be valuable. You should also speak to witnesses at the scene of the accident and ask for their contact details. They might be able to help you identify the vehicle that hit you, and they could also provide a statement or testify on your behalf in court.
- Save all accident-related documentation. Make sure to keep copies of your medical records, medical bills, pay stubs, the police report, photos from the scene, and any other documentation relevant to the accident. All of this evidence can be used to help support any insurance claim or lawsuit that you file.
- Contact a seasoned Rhode Island hit-and-run accident lawyer for advice as soon as possible. Managing all the details of an accident claim on top of recovering from your injuries is challenging. Your attorney can provide valuable guidance and take the burden off you while you are healing.
Who Pays for Damages Caused by a Hit and Run?
If you can locate the driver who hit you, you can pursue an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the driver. You’ll need to show that the driver was negligent in some manner that directly caused your injuries.
If you cannot locate the driver who hit you, or if the driver is uninsured or underinsured, securing compensation could be more complicated. However, you might have options for seeking compensation. Under Rhode Island state law, insurance carriers must provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). Through UM/UIM, your medical expenses and any property damage that you suffered could be covered.
We highly recommend hiring an attorney to represent you in settlement negotiations, even when dealing with your insurance company. Insurance providers are notorious for using different tactics to reduce settlement amounts and reduce their losses. Our attorneys know how to fight those tactics and demand the full and fair compensation you deserve.
If you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, you could turn to other types of insurance that you have elected, including personal injury protection insurance or MedPay.
Rhode Island Laws on Hit-and-Run Crashes
In Rhode Island, motorists are required by state law (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-26-1) to pull over and exchange information after an accident. Fleeing the scene of an accident can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor in Rhode Island. If no injuries or fatalities occurred due to the accident, fleeing the scene can be charged as a misdemeanor.
The punishment for a misdemeanor charge may include jail time and a license suspension of up to six months, as well as a $500 to $1,000 fine. If a person was injured in the accident, fleeing the scene can be charged as a felony, which carries a penalty of license suspension for one to five years, up to five years in prison, and a fine not exceeding $5,000. Failing to stop when a severe bodily injury has occurred can lead to even harsher penalties.
A motorist can be charged with a crime for fleeing the scene of an accident. However, criminal charges are brought by the state and litigated in criminal court, while civil matters are litigated in civil court. If you file a lawsuit to seek compensation from the at-fault party, your lawsuit would be a separate matter in civil court.