Hit and Run Accidents are a Major Problem in Wyoming
Did you know that more than 600,000 hit and run crashes occur each year in the U.S? Nearly 65% of people killed in hit and run accidents involve pedestrians and bicyclists. Florida, alongside New Mexico and Louisiana, has the highest number of fatal hit and run crashes in the country.
If you or a loved one were involved in a collision and the other driver flees the scene of the crash, this is defined as a hit and run. A federal hit and run statute has been put in place nationwide to help protect all drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in the event of this type of collision. A law requiring motorists to remain at the scene of any type of accident exists as well but is not always followed.
Whether you were inside the vehicle when it was hit or found that it was dented when you were not around, it’s important to understand what steps you should take right after this discovery. Contacting an experienced car accident attorney with The Advocates can increase your chances of obtaining compensation for property damages and medical expenses when the other driver is unidentified.
What To Do If You are the Victim of a Hit and Run Accident in Wyoming
Being involved in a hit and run accident can be frightening and leave many questions unanswered, especially if the other driver speeds away and leaves you injured. If you are the victim of a hit and run collision, the steps below are intended to guide you through this difficult time.
1. Assess the Situation
The first and most important step for your safety and the safety of others is to assess the situation right after a hit and run collision has occurred. Do not chase after the culprit, as it could make the situation worse, and result in even more damage.
If you were in the vehicle at the time of the accident, check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If your automobile is still operational, then move it to the shoulder or off of a main road. As a reminder, it’s always good to keep flares or reflective emergency triangles in your vehicle.
2. Once Safe, Call 911 Right Away!
After checking for injuries, call 911 to get an ambulance and the police to the scene of the hit and run crash. Even if you don’t have a description of the at-fault driver or a license plate number, you should contact emergency personnel right away for several reasons you can see below:
- Minor or severe injuries
- Drunk hit and run driver
- Help re-direct traffic
- File a police report
- Retrieve witness statements
These are only a few examples as to why it’s important to contact local authorities after a hit and run crash.
3. Exchange Contact Info with Witnesses
Look around to see if anyone witnessed the accident. If you do find witnesses, make sure you write down their contact information so that if your insurance company or the police need to contact them at a later time, they can.
4. Take Photos/Videos of the Scene
Take as many photos and videos of the scene as possible, including damages done to your vehicle, injuries you’ve suffered and the location of the accident.
If you notice any paint from missing from your vehicle, document that as well to help police later identify the suspect. This information is crucial in supporting your insurance claim as well as defends any legal claims in court.
5. File a Police Report within 24 Hours
If the hit and run accident occurred when you were away from your vehicle, you will want to file a police report within 24 hours. Some insurance companies require motorists to file the report within this timeframe. A failure to file a report may prevent you from receiving claim benefits under your police.
You’ll also want to take note of the police report number, the responding police officer’s name and telephone number and any personal notes on what happened involving the hit and run accident.
Should I Contact My Insurance About my Hit and Run Crash?
Yes. You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after a hit and run accident occurs. This way, it’ll be easier to remember all the details from the crash. The more information you have about the incident, the stronger your hit and run accident claim will be with your insurance company.
Regardless of fault, if you are hurt or your vehicle is damaged, your auto insurance policy may be able to help you with the cost of vehicle repairs, medical expenses, transportation coverage and any other bills resulting from the accident.
Does Car Insurance Cover Hit and Run Crashes in Wyoming?
Typically, when you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t leave the scene, their insurance usually covers the cost of injuries and damages. With a hit and run accident, your own insurance must cover the bills. Let’s take a look at different insurance options in Wyoming that could potentially cover a hit and run accident:
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage – this type of policy covers you in the event you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover all of your medical bills and expenses. It can also protect you if you’re in a hit and run accident if you purchased the coverage with your insurance, which may be worth investing in.
- Collision coverage – this type of insurance coverage will help pay for damages caused by an accident, despite who is at fault. If you have collision insurance, it may also help cover the damage from a hit and run crash, even if you were not in the vehicle at the time of the incident.
- Personal injury protection – also known as PIP, personal injury protection is optional in many states and helps cover medical bills, lost wages or childcare. This type of protection not only protects you regardless of who was at-fault, it may also cover you in the event of a hit and run. PIP isn’t just for drivers; you can also be covered if you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist hit by a vehicle.
It’s also important to note that all but two states require car insurance. Some states require liability insurance coverage, while others require medical coverage such as PIP. Here are the different insurance policy requirements in Wyoming:
- Bodily injury liability coverage per person: $25,000
- Bodily injury liability coverage per accident: $50,000
- Property damage liability coverage: $20,000
- Personal injury protection: Optional
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: Optional
As you can see, PIP and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage plans are optional. You may want to consider adding these options to your plan so that you don’t get stuck paying all the bills from a hit and run accident on your own.
What is the Penalty for a Hit and Run Collision in Wyoming?
Most states impose fines for a hit and run accident between $5,000 and $20,000. In Wyoming, a hit and run accident can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. The following penalties for a hit and run in the Cowboy State depend on the nature of the accident and any injuries that resulted:
- Jail time: at-fault drivers of a hit and run can face 1 year in prison, depending on the severity of the injuries sustained to other parties
- Fines: Wyoming may find up to $5,000 if convicted
- License penalties: the party responsible can have their license revoked or suspended. The period can range from 6 months up to a lifetime of revocation, based on the circumstances.
- Financial penalties: there are two types of financial penalties- civil consequences and dealing with your insurance company. Civil consequences involve any court expenses that are a result of being sued. It’s important to note that even though a jury may award $10,000 in damages, judges have been known to triple the amount due to the reckless behavior involved in hit and run accidents. Insurance companies typically cancel plans with policy holders who are convicted of a hit and run.
Additionally, car insurance companies will not cover the expenses accrued from hit and run crashes if you are the driver at-fault. In that case, all damages need to be covered out of pocket.
Contact a Wyoming Hit and Run Attorney with The Advocates
If you’ve been hurt in a hit and run accident, you will need an experienced attorney on your side. The lawyers with The Advocates are here to guide you through the aftermath of your collision and help you get maximum compensation for your injuries and losses. Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of accident victims rebuild their lives and get back on the road to recovery.
While you focus on recovering, The Advocates will take care of the rest and work insurance adjusters to help build you the strongest hit and run injury claim possible. Don’t hesitate to contact our attorneys today! You can call us at 307-466-0007, fill out the form below, or use our Online Chat Here to speak with an attorney right away. You deserve an Advocate!