This article is written by Peters and Associates.
It’s important to be able to expect the unexpected when driving. Lots of unpredictable situations can occur on the road, and often, they can be costly, dangerous and even deadly. If you’re in a car crash, ideally the damage is minimal, there are no injuries, and you’re able to exchange information with the other driver. But that may not always be the case. Here, we break down what can be done in more unusual crash scenarios.
What if I’m hit by an uninsured driver?
If you’re hit by an uninsured driver, having UIM/UM insurance can be a lifesaver. It covers the cost of injuries to you and your passengers if the person at fault either is under-insured (UIM) or entirely uninsured (UM).
UIM/UM insurance is not mandatory in Nevada, but it is strongly encouraged and for good reason. UIM/UM insurance can make a big difference if the crash involves injury.
However, it does not cover damage done to your car. You’ll need to pay your own deductible to get your car fixed, though it is possible to sue the driver at fault for the expense.
In some cases, you also may be able to sue the driver at fault for civil liability for the injuries involved, but such lawsuits can be dismissed or discharged in bankruptcy.
What if I’m the victim of a hit-and-run?
Whenever you’re involved in a crash and you aren’t incapacitated, you should immediately take a mental image of the vehicle(s) involved. You don’t need to be a car expert, either; simply note the color, body style (sedan, SUV, truck, etc.) and license plate.
If possible, use your phone to snap a couple of quick pictures of the fleeing car. Dash cams are becoming increasingly common in personal vehicles and can be helpful in hit-and-run incidents. The crash also may have been caught on one or more cameras in the area.
No matter how minor it may seem, always call police immediately after a hit-and-run.
What if the other driver gave me invalid or incorrect information after the fact?
This is another reason it is important to always take pictures after a car crash. As a general rule, get pictures of the following:
•The other car and its license plate
•Damage done to either/both cars
•Other driver’s license or ID
•Other driver’s proof of insurance
Photographing evidence minimizes the chance for mistakes and — unless documents were forged prior to the crash — should help minimize the likelihood of receiving invalid information. Filing a police report also can help.
If the driver refuses to show you his or her license or proof of insurance, call police immediately.
What if I’m in a crash with someone who appears to have road rage or be aggressive?
If the other driver seems excessively angry, aggressive or out of control, the situation can escalate quickly depending — in part — on how you handle it. Try your best to keep your cool, and don’t engage with the other driver. Get back in your vehicle, lock the doors and call police. Explain that the situation is critical, then use your phone to record the driver’s behavior as you wait for officers to arrive. If possible, move your vehicle out of the roadway and into a nearby parking lot where there may be witnesses.
What if I’m hit by a driver who I suspect has been drinking?
If you’re hit by someone who appears inebriated, get back in your car and call police. Then use your phone to film the driver’s behavior. Be sure to take pictures of the other car, its license plate and any damage done to either vehicle. From there, simply wait for officers to arrive. Limit your engagement with the other driver. There’s no reason to put yourself in more danger.
In all of the scenarios outlined or any time you’re involved in a crash that seems fishy, call 911 (if someone was injured or you need a responder at the scene) or 311 (if nobody was injured and you don’t need an immediate response but may need to file a police report).
Please note: The information in this column is intended for general purposes only and is not to be considered legal or professional advice of any kind. You should seek advice that is specific to your problem before taking or refraining from any action and should not rely on the information in this column.