Car accidents are more common than many people think, and hit-and-run accidents can be the scariest of them all.
It’s understandable if you’re shaken up after someone hits your car and then drives off without even stopping to make sure you’re okay. But there are a number of things you can do in the state of New Mexico to mitigate the damage you face after a hit and run.
With the help of an experienced car accident attorney like Clark Harmonson, you can do everything possible to make sure that the other driver is found and that you are compensated for the losses you incurred as a result of the accident.
5 steps to take after a hit and run accident
Normally, after an accident, there are a number of important steps to take, including checking on the passengers of the other car involved in the accident, and exchanging insurance information with the other driver.
However, after a hit and run, you have to improvise a bit.
Here are 5 essential steps to take after a hit-and-run accident.
- Pull over: It may be tempting to chase after the other driver, but the best thing you can do is pull over to safety and make sure that everyone in your car is okay.
- Call the police: In most cases, it’s New Mexico law that you have to report a car accident. But it can also help in tracking down the fleeing driver if you report some of the following identifying information to the police:
- The vehicle’s make, model, and color
- The driver’s appearance
- As much of the vehicle’s license plate as you can remember
- Get medical help: Even if you feel totally fine, a check-up is absolutely crucial after you’ve been in any sort of car accident. It will also demonstrate that you did everything you could to mitigate your personal injury damages in case you have to take the case to court.
- Document evidence: Take pictures and videos of your vehicle and the environment around you, write down your recollection of the events, and talk to any witnesses who saw what happened.
- Call your insurance agency: Calling your insurance company can help you find the other driver, and is an important step in the insurance claims process. But make sure not to give a recorded or written statement before you’ve talked to your accident attorney.
New Mexico law on reporting a car accident
The 5 steps listed above are good advice for anyone who is the victim of a hit-and-run accident in the United States. But there are also specific laws in New Mexico about when and how to report a car accident that it’s important for you to follow.
- You are legally obligated to contact the police if the accident resulted in any of the following:
- Bodily injury of any person
- Death of any person
- Property damage over $500
- You must file an accident report with the New Mexico Department of Transportation within 5 days of the accident.
- Depending on the severity of the damage you received, you only have 3 years after the accident to sue the other driver in court for your personal injuries.
Getting compensation for the accident
In the context of hit-and-run accidents, this means that if the driver speeds off, your insurance company is still required to cover your damages. For personal injuries, the minimum uninsured motorist coverage starts at $25,000 per person, and for property damage it can go as high as $10,000 per accident. A lot of insurance agents will try to sell you cheap insurance by getting you to reject uninsured motorist coverage. My advice is to never reject this important coverage because a high percentage of New Mexico drivers are uninsured.
However, sometimes, your insurance payout still isn’t enough to cover all of your damages. In this case, having an experienced car accident attorney by your side can be invaluable.
If the police are able to track down the other driver, an attorney can help you sue them for damages through a personal injury claim or other lawsuit. And even if the other driver is never found, an attorney with years of experience helping victims of hit-and-run accidents can make sure you maximize the amount you get from your insurance company.
Hire a car accident attorney in New Mexico today
So whether you’ve tracked down the other driver’s license plate or not, an attorney like Clark Harmonson can help make sure your hit and run doesn’t break the bank. At Harmonson Law Firm, we take every case seriously, and we work hard to make sure you are receiving the full amount of compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.