The organization also revealed that hit-and-run fatalities have been increasing by an average of 7.2% since 2009, something that executive director David Yang described as “trending in the wrong direction.”
“We can’t forget that cars can be deadly when they come into contact with pedestrians, cyclists, or other cars,” he said. “It is incumbent on each and every one of us to stay alert, be aware of our surroundings, and always stay on the scene if involved in a crash.”
Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA Foundation, added that every motorist has the “legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist, or another vehicle.”
“While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers – whether they caused the crash or not,” she warned.
Read more: Which US states have the best and worst drivers?
What should you do if you were a victim of a hit-and-run accident?
Even with minor damage, getting involved in a hit-and-run crash can be a harrowing experience. Experts remind motorists, however, that there are certain steps that they can take to make the situation less stressful.
1. Assess the situation.
After a crash, the first thing a victim needs to do is to “make sure that you and any passengers in your car are okay,” according to car comparison website GetJerry, adding that “your safety is the most important thing.”
The website also advised motorists against chasing the vehicle that hit them, no matter how angry they were.
“Chasing after another driver can lead to even more dangerous situations, and you can drive recklessly and create further insurance claims,” the firm explained. “Instead, stay at the scene of the crash and gather as much information as you can.”
2. Seek medical attention.
If there are injuries to the driver or any of their passengers, then the obvious next step is to get immediate medical treatment.
“After a hit-and-run, as with any accident, you should immediately evaluate your need for medical attention,” consumer financial services firm Bankrate noted. “If you feel that you are hurt, calling for medical attention or going to an emergency room should be your first priority.”
3. Notify law enforcement.
Once it is certain that everyone is safe, hit-and-run victims should notify the police about the incident as soon as possible. The same goes for damages incurred while a vehicle is parked. Ideally, an accident report should be filed within 24 hours of the incident or discovery of the damage.
“This can help the claims process go smoothly and help the authorities get to the bottom of the hit-and-run,” the insurance giant Progressive said. “Tell the police about any identifying details you can remember, such as the other car’s license plate, make, or model. The police may be able to track down the at-fault driver.”
Read more: Personal injury protection insurance – a state-by-state guide
4. Get as much evidence as possible.
Insurance marketplace Insurance.com advised motorists to gather as much evidence as they can.
“Even though you won’t have the name of the driver who caused the wreck, you should collect whatever information is available,” the firm noted. “You also should try to remember whatever details you can.”
Among the steps that motorists can take, according to the marketplace, are:
- Trying to record a description of the other vehicle and its driver
- Writing down the details of what occurred, taking note of which direction the other vehicle headed after causing the wreck
- Getting the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Gathering the names and badge numbers of the police officers who responded
- Taking photos of the accident scene and the vehicles involved, as well as any other property damage
- Contacting the business or organization nearest the accident scene and inquiring about any available surveillance camera footage
5. Contact your car insurance provider.
If the hit-and-run victims decide to file a claim, they will need to contact their auto insurer as soon as possible.
“Calling to file a claim as soon as possible after an accident can be beneficial,” Bankrate explained. “Some insurance companies and states have regulations surrounding how long after an accident you can file a claim.”
Read more: Revealed – the most and least expensive states for car insurance in 2022
Does my car insurance cover hit-and-run crashes?
While there is no such thing as hit-and-run insurance in the US, some policies under a car insurance plan may provide coverage. These include:
1. Collision coverage
As the name suggests, this pays for the cost to repair damages to a vehicle caused by a collision with another vehicle or a stationary object, regardless of who is at fault. This type of coverage, however, is optional – although lenders make it a condition for a car loan – and comes with a deductible. In a hit-and-run accident, collision coverage can help cover vehicle repair or replacement expenses. If the at-fault motorist is later identified and carries insurance, policyholders may be able to recover their deductible from that driver’s policy.
2. Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI)
UMBI covers injuries sustained in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Some states consider drivers who leave an accident scene as uninsured. In these locations, this type of coverage can help pay for medical expenses incurred due to hit-and-run crashes. Other states require proof that the other motorist is uninsured before providing protection. UMBI typically does not have a deductible.
Read more: Revealed – US states that require uninsured motorist coverage
3. Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)
This works similar to uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage but instead pays out the cost to repair the damage that a vehicle sustains. This type of coverage is mandated in some states and may cover hit-and-run accidents. Unlike UMBI, however, UMPD comes with a deductible.
4. Medical payments coverage
This covers medical expenses the driver and their passengers incur after an accident, which can include hit-and-run collisions, regardless of who is at fault. Coverage typically does not come with a deductible but is also not available in all states.
5. Personal injury protection (PIP)
PIP coverage is not available in all states but in no-fault states, this type of policy is mandatory. It works the same as medical payments coverage, paying for medical bills for both the driver and the passengers, no matter who caused the accident. PIP may also cover lost wages or childcare expenses incurred due to the injuries sustained. A deductible may apply, depending on state laws.
Read more: America’s top car insurers in 2022 – a region-by-region breakdown
Will a hit-and-run claim raise my insurance premiums?
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents can drive up car insurance premiums, even for the victims who were not at-fault, according to Bankrate.
“While you shouldn’t be surcharged for a not-at-fault accident, you could lose an accident-free discount, for example, or your rating classification could change,” the firm explained.
“If you cause a hit-and-run and are found, you may choose to file a claim with your insurance, so that you don’t have to pay the damages out of pocket. In that case, you’ll likely see a large increase in your rates, on top of any moving violations and legal fees you are charged for fleeing the scene. Additionally, you run the risk of facing potential criminal charges.”
Progressive, meanwhile, noted that rate increases are often dependent on the auto insurance provider and the state.
“In some cases, your premium may not increase if you weren’t at fault,” according to the insurer. “In other cases, any accident can result in a rate increase – even for hit-and-run accidents where the other driver was clearly at fault.”
“If you make a hit-and-run claim on your auto insurance policy, that claim would go on your insurance record,” insurance giant Allstate wrote on its website. “According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, claim frequency may affect what you pay for car insurance.”