If you are involved in a traffic accident in Oklahoma, you must stop at the accident scene or as close to the accident scene as possible. Oklahoma traffic laws require drivers to give their names and addresses to the other drivers involved in the accident. They must also render aid and wait for the police to arrive. 

Unfortunately, some drivers fail to obey the law when they are involved in a car accident. They flee the accident scene, leaving the victim to deal with the damages caused by their reckless or negligent driving behavior. Sadly, hit-and-run drivers cause catastrophic injuries, financial losses, and non-economic damages

Investigating a Hit and Run Accident in Oklahoma City

Hit and run accident investigations can take months to complete. The length of the investigation depends on numerous factors. 

For example, if you were able to get the license plate number of the hit-and-run vehicle, the police can quickly locate the vehicle owner. However, if you were only able to give the police officers a description of the vehicle, it could take much longer to locate the car. It takes time for police officers to search for eyewitnesses or video evidence that can help them identify the hit-and-run driver.

Whenever you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, call 911 immediately to report the accident. Tell the operator as much information as you can remember about the vehicle and the driver. You will need to give the same information to the police officers when they arrive at the accident scene.

Make sure to ask anyone who stops at the accident scene for their names and contact information. Some people might leave before the police arrive, but they could have information that would assist in the hit-and-run accident investigation.

Unfortunately, many hit-and-run accidents go unsolved because there is insufficient evidence to help the police identify the vehicle and driver. 

Who is Liable for a Hit-and-Run Accident?

The driver who caused the traffic accident is liable for damages caused by the accident. In many hit-and-run cases, the driver who fled the accident scene caused the crash. The driver fled because he did not want to be held liable for the accident.

The driver could have had other reasons for fleeing the scene of a car accident. The driver may not have had car insurance coverage, was driving without a driver’s license, or was impaired by drugs or alcohol. However, it does not matter why the driver fled the scene. If the hit-and-run driver caused the accident, he could be held liable for damages, if the police can locate him.

If the police locate the hit-and-run driver, you can file a claim against the driver’s liability car insurance. Oklahoma requires all drivers to purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance. Liability insurance compensates accident victims for damages when the driver causes a car crash. 

However, what happens if the hit-and-run driver does not have liability insurance? What happens if the police officers never identify the hit-and-run driver? You can file an insurance claim under your uninsured motorist coverage.

What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

Uninsured motorist (UM) insurance is optional insurance coverage you can purchase with your liability insurance policy. UM is not required, but your insurance agent must offer this coverage to you when you purchase liability insurance. It is strongly recommended the individuals carry UM coverage to protect themselves if they are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver.

Uninsured motorist coverage compensates you for damages from an accident caused by an uninsured driver. It can also compensate you when you are injured in a hit-and-run accident. 

Suppose the hit-and-run driver is never located, but you prove that the driver caused the accident. In that case, your UM coverage should compensate you for the same types of damages that you are entitled to receive when an uninsured motorist causes a car crash. 

Damages that could be covered by your UM policy include:

  • Medical costs and expenses
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Decreases in future earning capacity
  • Permanent impairments, disabilities, and disfigurements
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries 

The amount you receive from a UM claim depends on the damages sustained in the accident and your policy limits. 

Do I Need an Attorney After a Hit-and-Run Accident?

Your insurance company could deny your claim for lack of evidence. It could also undervalue your claim to avoid paying full value for your damages. So, you might want to consider talking to an attorney after a hit and run accident. Your lawyer can work to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. 

Even though you are filing a claim with your insurance company, you must prove that the hit-and-run driver caused the accident. A lawyer investigates the cause of the accident, gathers evidence, and communicates with the police regarding this hit-and-run accident investigation. 

Your lawyer also works with you to document your damages. You must prove that you were injured and sustained damages because of the accident to recover compensation. Having an experienced lawyer working on your case can give you the best chance of receiving a fair settlement for a hit-and-run accident claim.