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Can I Make an Auto Accident Claim With Just Their License Plate?

Power Trial Lawyers Team

Not all car accidents involve responsible parties. For whatever reason, sometimes people will flee the scene of an accident, and the only information you have to go on is the license plate. Learn more about what you could do in a scenario like this to maximize the success rate of your auto accident claim.

What Can You Do When Someone Does a Hit and Run to You?

Car lights

Hit and runs come in various forms. Pedestrians or other vehicles could be involved, it might happen on a freeway or in a parking lot, the driver may or may not show their face before fleeing the scene—no matter what type of hit and run occurs, here are some steps you can take in the aftermath.

Ensure That You and any Other Parties Involved are in a Safe Place

Wherever collisions occur, there is a potential risk of chain car collisions. That is why it is critical that you make sure you, your passengers, and any pedestrians nearby are all in safe spots. Especially in bad conditions or if the road is dark, those who are curious or distracted might be at great risk for another accident.

Record all Information Possible

As soon as the hit and run has taken place, it is important to record any information about the collision that you may remember or still see. Photos can be incredibly useful, since they provide visual evidence of the scene.

Take photos and videos of the vehicle(s) involved, and of any injuries suffered by anyone involved, and get photos that show the place where the hit and run occurred.

It can also help your claim if you can remember or are able to obtain the following information:

  • Model of the car
  • Year
  • Make
  • License plate number
  • Car color and characteristics
  • Physical traits of the driver
  • Names and contact information of any potential witnesses
  • Time, date, as well as location of the incident
  • Damage taken by you, passengers, your vehicle, or any other parties
  • Weather conditions

Seek Medical Attention and Obtain a Medical Record

After the car accident, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. If there is an insurance company involved, they might try to argue that no injuries were sustained. Get a medical record as soon as possible to help boost the legitimacy of your insurance claim later on.

Legalities and Penalties of a Hit and Run

A hit and run is not legal. There may be severe criminal penalties and consequences for leaving the scene of a car accident. The laws concerning hit and runs vary from state to state, so it may be important to find an attorney to help you pursue justice and proper financial compensation.

Hit and Run Criminal Penalties

According to Nolo, a hit and run can be classified as either a felony or misdemeanor.

In most states, the accident will be classified as a felony in cases where there is any injury to a person, whether that person is a vehicle occupant or a pedestrian.

A felony hit and run can result in a fine anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. Incarceration is also possible, and a felony hit and run is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Even if the hit and run is classified as a misdemeanor, that does not mean there are no consequences. The party who is responsible for the accident but flees the scene can be fined up to $5,000 and/or be made to serve up to one year of jail time.

Administrative Penalties: What Happens to Your Driver’s License if You are Convicted of a Hit and Run?

On top of criminal punishment, harsh administrative punishment is also a possibility.

If someone is convicted of a hit and run, their driver’s license will usually be suspended automatically for around six months. Depending upon the circumstances, their license may instead be revoked for as long as three years.

In some states, under certain circumstances, a license can be revoked for the driver’s lifetime.

Civil Penalties for a Hit and Run

The party causing the accident may also be sued in civil court for damages by the other party or parties.

Be aware that the monetary consequences ordered by a court are typically a lot higher if the at-fault party is liable for hit and run in addition to being at fault for the accident. Such punitive damages or treble damages will greatly increase the financial compensation the at-fault party needs to pay.

Punitive and treble damages are usually not covered by car insurance policies. That means a judge could order the hit and run driver to pay quite a large sum of money to the plaintiff.

How to File an Auto Claim With Just a License Plate

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that two percent of rural crashes with fatalities are hit and runs, whereas seven percent of urban fatal crashes are considered hit-and-runs.

Sometimes, a driver will flee the scene or refuse to give out any identification information, regardless of whether a fatality or injuries have occurred. If a driver who might be at fault seems nervous or agitated by the thought of you identifying them or calling the police, it is often better to take the safe route and agree with the driver and let them drive off. Take note of the license plate and the rest can be handled later.

Here are some things to consider when filing a claim with an insurance company. An accident attorney can also assist you in the process of filing a claim.

Why Might Someone Flee the Scene or Not Cooperate?

There are many reasons for a driver to flee the scene of a hit and run. Most likely they are terrified of the consequences. It’s even possible that the car they’re driving was stolen.

In cases where the car was stolen, the license plate number may or may not prove useful when you file an insurance claim.

How to Find an Insurance Company by License Plate?

The state DMV is typically willing to provide insurance details based on the car and license plate information you give them. However, this process will require a valid reason, since DMVs don’t want to violate privacy expectations and give personal details out without a valid reason.

Once you’ve collected all the information and provided it to your car insurance agent, they will begin investigating the case. If the police have been called to the scene, authorities will also be able to look into criminal penalties and other issues that might arise as a result of the collision.

Get Help From Legal Experts and Attorneys

Learning about your options when dealing with a hit and run can be confusing. No matter what scenario you are in, you can contact our team at Power Trial Lawyers to get legal assistance. Call Power Trial Lawyers P.C. at (844) 844-POWER.

The team at Power Trial Lawyers is here to help. Call us today (844) 844-POWER. Our dedicated team of law professionals will gladly walk you through the complicated nuances of the legal system. Contact our team today to see if you possibly hold an entitlement to compensation for your accident. We’re here to help.

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Fill out the contact form or call us at (888) 808-2179 to schedule a case evaluation.

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