What to Do If You're the Victim of a Hit & Run

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Being involved in any car accident can be downright terrifying-- even if you’re fortunate enough to be physically unharmed. But it can be particularly frightening and bewildering if you’re the victim of a hit and run accident. In today’s blog post, we’ll take a look at what you should do if you’re the victim of a hit and run.

What is a Hit & Run?

First, let’s clarify what we’re talking about. Here in Oregon, there are 2 laws to look closely at: ORS 811.700 and ORS 811.705. The former covers the case of a driver who leaves the scene of an accident when property has been damaged (a misdemeanor) and the latter when a driver leaves the scene of an accident when someone has been injured (a class B or C felony).

Collectively, these crimes make up what a person would typically think of as a hit and run.

But there’s more to it than just that. The laws cover more than just leaving the scene of an accident. When involved in an accident, Oregon drivers must perform what are known as “duties of driver”-- basically the responsibilities that come with driving an automobile.

The Duties of an Oregon Driver

If no one has been injured, the driver must

  1. Stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible.

  2. Provide the other driver (and any passengers) with their name, address, and the registration number of their vehicle, as well as the name(s) and address(es) of any other occupant(s) of the vehicle.

If the vehicle struck is unattended, the driver must

  1. the driver must find the vehicle owner or leave a note explaining what happened and providing their name and address.

If a person has been injured, the driver must…

  1. Provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance to take them to receive care for their injuries or have an ambulance called.

  2. Provide the other driver (and any passengers) with their name, address, and the registration number of their vehicle, as well as the name(s) and address(es) of any other occupant(s) of the vehicle.

  3. Remain at until a police officer has arrived.

When a Driver Fails to Perform His Or Her Duties

What happens when a driver doesn’t do what they should? In ORS 811.706, Oregon law states that as part of a criminal conviction for breaking the laws discussed above, the court may require that the defendant pay the victim an amount of money equal to the damages incurred.

This is meant to be a form of restitution, not compensation. In order to be further compensated (for pain and suffering, for example), the victim will need to file a civil suit.

So, What Should You Do?

Unfortunately, there are lots of ways to be involved in a hit and run accident. You might find yourself:

  • Driving a car that’s hit by another vehicle

  • Passenger in a car that’s been hit by another vehicle

  • Hit by a vehicle while walking or bicycling

What should you do? What should your priorities be?

Protect Yourself

Your first priority is to make sure you’re safe. If you’re unharmed, that means moving the vehicle (or your bicycle) out of the road (if possible) and making sure you’re not injured by another inattentive driver.

Important Note: It’s possible to have serious injuries, like internal bleeding from a seatbelt, a broken bone, concussion, or even a nasty cut, and not feel it due to the effects of adrenaline. You may feel hyper, excited, numb, jittery, or out of control in the moments immediately following an accident.

Help Others & Get Help For Yourself

If you’re able to, make sure that anyone else involved in the accident is safe and call 911 if an ambulance is needed. It’s much better to err on the side of caution and get help if anyone might be injured. Even if you feel fine you should still be checked out!

Contact the Police

As we talked about earlier, leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime and you should contact the police as soon as possible to file a report and so that they can collect evidence.

Seek Follow Up Medical Treatment

Even if you are OK and didn’t need immediate medical attention, it’s likely that you’ll be very sore the next day, as injuries to muscles, soft tissue, and your neck and back may not appear for a day or even longer.

If you start to feel pain, get it checked out! Only with the help of a doctor can you truly understand the extent of your injuries and what your prognosis might be.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Oregon is what’s known as a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) state. This means that if you’re an insured driver in Oregon, your auto insurance policy will cover up to $15,000 in treatment for injuries and even lost wages. This is coverage you’re paying for: take advantage of it.

Your PIP coverage will even cover you if you’re riding a bicycle at the time of the accident and possibly even when you’re walking.

Your insurance company can also talk to you about other options, including replacing damaged property and help you decide what to do next if the other driver is found and charged.

In the Days & Weeks After The Accident

Hopefully, in accidents involving minor injuries and property damage, you can begin to return to your normal life quickly. However, you may experience anxiety or other psychological symptoms that affect your day to day life. Seek counseling if you need it!

Unfortunately, in the case of a hit and run accident, the at-fault driver may never be found. So where do you turn for help? In Oregon, the Department of Justice provides the opportunity for victims of crimes to receive compensation to pay for medical bills, mental health counseling, lost wages, and other expenses. This can be a valuable resource if you need it!

Speak With a Lawyer

Unfortunately, dealing with an accident (especially when you’ve been injured) can be frustrating and confusing. Your insurance company may not give you straight answers and may deny coverage for your treatments. If the other driver is found and charged, do you have a case against them?

The only way to know for sure is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer like me, Adam Greenman. I can talk to you about your rights and help you decide what to do next and even help you apply for compensation from the state.

There’s simply no reason to not pick up the phone speak with a lawyer. Consultations are always free and confidential.

When you’re the victim of a crime, you need someone to stand up for your rights. Call Adam Greenman Law at (503) 227-3800.

Photo Credits: Herry Lawford, Daniel X. O’Neill, Kim Siever