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How difficult is it to recover hit-and-run damages?

If another motorist hits your car in Missouri and then flees the scene, you may find it quite difficult to learn the driver’s identity, which naturally is the prerequisite for suing him or her for your injuries and/or property damage. Statistically, if neither you nor law enforcement officers can identify the driver within the first few hours after (s)he hits your vehicle, his or her identity likely will remain a mystery forever. Consequently, you need to begin identification attempts immediately.

If this hit-and-run accident happens while you are driving, do your best to overcome your shock and surprise sufficiently to look at and quickly memorize the license plate number of the perpetrator’s vehicle. Pull over and stop as quickly as you safely can and write down this number before you forget it. If you do not have paper and a pen handy, use your cellphone to text the number to a friend or family member. If you happened to notice the vehicle’s make, color, company logo or unusual bumper sticker(s), include these in your text message as well.

Then call 911 and request law enforcement assistance. Give the officers as many details as possible about the perpetrator’s vehicle, referring to your text message when necessary. In addition, note the location of your car’s damage because that gives a good clue as to where the hit-and-run vehicle sustained damage. Officers often identify a hit-and-run driver when (s)he takes his or her vehicle into a shop for repairs.

Stationary vehicle hit-and-run

No one need tell you that parking lots can be hazardous places for both you and your car. If you discover that someone hit it while you were shopping, at a movie, eating in a restaurant, etc., ask everyone in the parking lot if they saw what happened. Also go into any nearby buildings and stores and ask if any of them have security cameras that may have recorded what happened.

If the hit-and-run occurs while your car is parked in front of your home, do not hesitate to knock on your neighbors’ doors and ask if they happened to see or hear anything that could help you identify the perpetrator.

Bottom line

If all your identification efforts fail, you likely will need to file a claim with your own auto insurance company in order to recover your damages. Your uninsured motorist and other coverages probably will cover the amount of your medical bills and necessary car repairs.