When you’re the victim of a hit and run accident, your first reaction is likely shock. Then you wonder how you’re ever going to get the other guy to pay for your repairs. If the driver that struck your vehicle fled the accident scene, you might worry that the police won’t be able to locate them. After a hit and run, how soon will the police contact you? It depends. 

What Do Police Do in a Hit And Run Investigation?

If you are involved in a car accident in California, you must stop and report it to the police or California Highway Patrol (CHP). If the accident results in injury or death, California law requires you to report the accident to the police or CHP within 24 hours of its occurrence. After you report the hit and run accident, the police will initiate their investigation and attempt to locate the driver by using the following methods:

  • Reviewing surveillance footage from traffic cameras or nearby businesses
  • Searching for the vehicle using the make, model, and color of the vehicle
  • Researching the driver’s license plate number in the state databases
  • Speaking to eyewitnesses to obtain further information about the driver and their vehicle
  • Analyzing the damage on your vehicle in an effort to find a vehicle with damage consistent with the hit and run accident
  • Looking for the driver of the vehicle based on their physical characteristics and facial features 

A hit and run accident presents a unique challenge for a law enforcement investigation because the driver likely at fault for the accident left the scene. However, the police department will devote time and resources to locating the driver because of the potential criminal and civil consequences of a hit and run accident. 

How Long Before Police Stop Investigating a Hit And Run?

The time that police will spend investigating a hit and run accident depends on what the police know about the driver and their vehicle. Accordingly, the length of time spent on a hit and run investigation varies widely. If you provided detailed information about the vehicle that struck your vehicle and the driver’s physical characteristics, the police have a better chance of locating the driver. However, if you could not get a good look at the driver and could not capture much information about their vehicle due to your injuries or general disorientation after a crash, the police may not have much information to work with in their pursuit of the driver.

There is no set timeline for conducting a hit and run investigation. If you were able to record the other vehicle’s license plate number, the driver could be located within a few hours. If you are unable to describe the type and color of their vehicle and the accident was not captured by any surveillance cameras, the investigation could be open for a few weeks or even months. Unfortunately, sometimes hit and run accident drivers are never located and do not turn themselves in. At some point, the police may determine that no further progress on the case is possible and close their file.

Throughout the course of the investigation, the police might update you periodically with developments in their investigation. If they contact you and you have retained a personal injury attorney, you should advise them of your attorney’s contact information so the police can contact the attorney directly.

How Can I Help the Police Find the Hit and Run Driver?

When you report the accident to the local police or CHP, be as specific as possible when providing information about the other driver and their vehicle:

  • Record the other vehicle’s license plate number and the make, model, and color of their vehicle
  • Provide the contact information of any witnesses that you spoke to after the accident
  • Show the police the damage on your vehicle and take pictures of it for their file

Although the details of the accident can become blurred in the days following an accident, sometimes a crucial fact about the vehicle or driver may come to mind. Be sure to advise the law enforcement agency investigating the accident of any pertinent details you recall after providing your initial report. 

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you were injured in a hit and run accident, contact a San Diego car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. As you focus on healing from your injuries, your attorney will investigate the accident, speak to the police and insurance companies on your behalf, and build your case to demand the compensation you need to move forward after the accident. Call Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers at (619) 233-5020 to speak to an experienced hit and run accident attorney and Get Ross!