I witnessed a hit-and-run accident on Skillman near Royal yesterday (it was the vehicle vs. vehicle kind luckily, no pedestrians were involved), and it seemed to me the poor girl who was hit did everything wrong. Since my own four children are drivers in their 20s, I wondered exactly what she should have done. Would my kids have handled the situation any better? Would I?
The accident: The woman (she looked about 20 years old) and I both turned left from Royal onto Skillman traveling northbound (it’s a double turn lane). As I turned right into the McDonald’s parking lot, a white car pulled out onto Skillman and broadsided the woman driving beside me, spinning her around and leaving her facing the wrong way on the divided roadway. The driver of the white car (maroon top, older car, very square, perhaps a Lincoln) u-turned in front of McDonald’s and sped away.
What she did: The woman sat in her blue SUV on Skillman for a good while and made a phone call while cars whizzed past her on both sides. I went out into the street, asked if she was okay and suggested she move her car for safety purposes – she didn’t need to get hit a second time.
What she should have done: Geico and other similar websites advise you to first move your vehicle off the roadway to a position of safety without fleeing the scene if the accident is minor. Next, you should make sure everyone is okay and call 911 to alert police and paramedics.
The offending driver didn’t stick around long enough to exchange information, but most consumer advisors suggest also photographing and documenting accidents at the time of the collision. If she (or I) had thought to quickly pull out our phone or camera, we might now have a photo of the car (and maybe even a license plate) to share with police. Interestingly, several of the sites I consulted advised that you shouldn’t jump out and apologize or admit fault. No risk of that in this hit-and-run, but in our litigious age, regret for running a red light or swerving into someone’s lane is something your insurer would rather you keep to yourself.
And here’s a little advice from a car accident attorney in West Palm Beach: don’t assume the other guy will obey the rules of the road, and never assume he’ll stop and take the blame if he makes a mistake. You are the best steward of your own safety and property. (Insert Toler Kids’ eye-rolling here.)