Being the victim of a hit-and-run is going to be difficult; there is no getting around that. Between police reports, doctors and insurance claims, your time and patience are going to be tested. The moment the accident happens, however, if you are able you have the unique opportunity to be your own detective.
You are probably not going to be Sherlock Holmes, but you have eyes and ears and the ability to determine cause and effect, so you will be the first resource the police use in tracking down the person who hit you. Think how great it could be to know that the one little detail you noticed right at the time of your accident cracked the case wide open.
Note: The following guide assumes you are safe, out of traffic and not suffering from acute, life-threatening injuries. Call a doctor after any car accident as you may have injuries you do not notice at first.
Take down the details
Note the time that you were hit and any other details you can remember. Frequently, when accidents occur you may not remember much, due to stress and surprise. Do not be upset if you didn’t see who it was or where it came from, but write down every detail that you have available to you.
There is a reason that we say “it was like watching a car accident.” People take notice and pay attention. If you were the victim of a hit-and-run, there is a good chance that there are people around that witnessed it. Get their names, numbers and take notes of what they saw. Keep track of every single thing you are told.
Check the damage
The damage to your car is going to be like a fingerprint. Take some pictures with your phone and inspect the damage as you wait for police. As you review the damage, ask yourself these questions as you go over your car:
- Is there color paint? Does it match what I remember?
- Do the scratches look like they are heading in one direction or the other?
- Was it a direct hit or was the other car scraped against yours?
- Is the damage high or low on the car?
Answering these questions can fill in any gaps that are missing, such as vehicle height and the direction the other car was heading. It might help you crystallize what you remember.
Importantly, you are not a police officer and there are limits to what you can do when you’re the victim of a hit-and-run. Getting as much information for the report as you can is a fun challenge in a difficult time. Taking care that you are healthy is the most important thing, only afterward can you decide if playing detective is right for you.