When there's been an accident on the road, most drivers will behave at least somewhat respectfully toward each other. Many will just shrug and let the insurance sort out who is really responsible for the damage later.
And then there are the drivers who seem to think that the rules don't really apply. They may threaten, cajole, or beg you not to file a claim and — when that doesn't work — outright refuse to give you their information and drive off. Here's how to handle it.
1. Ensure your safety above all else.
It's generally illegal for a driver to refuse to exchange insurance information after an accident, just in case either driver needs to file a personal injury claim. However, if someone is threatening or tries to leave, you could put yourself in additional danger by trying to force the issue. Back off and don't try to force the issue or stop the driver from running off.
2. Get the other driver's license plate number.
You don't need much to give the police everything necessary to track down another driver. Covertly look at the license plate number and memorize it or write it down. (If you're at a safe enough distance from the other driver, try to grab a quick photo with the camera on your cellphone.)
3. Call the police as quickly as possible.
Even if the other driver refuses to obey the law and drives off and you don't think you are hurt, call the police. You may find out that your vehicle is seriously damaged later or develop unexpected injuries after your adrenaline wears off. By law, you're supposed to call the police to a scene of an accident — especially a hit-and-run. Filing a police report protects your interests if you do have complications following the accident.
4. Get the names of any witnesses.
Other people who saw the accident may have spotted details you missed about the other driver. Get the contact information of any witnesses who stay. Most people are sympathetic when they see a hit-and-run and will try to help if they can.
5. Contact a car accident attorney.
Even if the other driver vanished from the scene, an experienced car accident attorney can often track such people down. In other cases, you may need an attorney to convince your own insurance company to play fair after a hit-and-run, make your repairs, and cover your bills.
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