When a party to a car accident flees the scene it can turn up the tension in an already stressful event and make it difficult to form an idea of the best next steps.
When a driver has been involved in a traffic accident they are required by law to remain at the scene and exchange their contact details and insurance information with any other party to the accident. Suppose a party to the accident leaves before details are exchanged. In that case, the vehicle is then referred to as an ‘unidentified vehicle’, which can hold up an insurance claim or civil action made by parties whose vehicle was damaged or who suffered a personal injury.
Unfortunately, these scenarios sometimes arise and if you have found yourself in a traffic accident but the other party has left the scene, read on to find out how to navigate the situation.
- Remain at the scene and do not attempt to chase the fleeing party
If one party has left the scene it may be in an attempt to avoid further legal or financial implications; for example, they may be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol or their insurance has lapsed. Therefore, even if you are able to catch up to the fleeing party it is impossible to know how they could react and it is generally safer to stay put.
- Ensure your passengers are okay
Your passengers, drivers or passengers of other cars and even pedestrians may have sustained injuries in the accident, so it is important to check on the wellbeing of others and to call 000 if an ambulance is required. Even the most minor of injuries should be seen by a doctor in case they escalate. If you or your passengers are experiencing any type of pain you should present to an emergency room or book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible to ensure a record of the injury is made in case compensation needs to be sought.
- Seek information from witnesses
The more details you have about the accident the easier it will be to piece together who was at fault. If there were any witnesses, ask them what they saw and if they have any photo or video footage which may be useful. It is also wise to get their contact details in case they are asked to recall the accident to the police and/or an insurer.
While you are collecting information from witnesses it is a good time to obtain as much evidence as possible from the scene of the accident, which might indicate how it occurred and confirm who was at fault.
Photos and videos of any vehicles involved in the crash are useful, as are images of skid marks on the road from the affected vehicles’ tyres and evidence of any hazards or confusing road markers or signage that may have contributed to negligent driving.
- Notify the police
Armed with all of your evidence, you should notify the police of the accident and provide them with all of the details you have about the driver who fled and the conditions at the scene.
- Seek the advice of a legal professional
It is useful to seek legal advice after a car accident, even if all affected parties remained at the scene, in case you need assistance with submitting an insurance claim or if a claim is being brought against your employer because you were at fault.
Contact our personal injury team for more information on how we can manage your claim for compensation.