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Getting into an accident can be scary, and when the at-fault driver flees the scene, things can be even more complicated. Hit-and-run accidents are not uncommon, which is one of the reasons why car insurance is a legal requirement in most states. If you drive in Delaware, knowing what to do after a hit-and-run collision and how a hit-and-run might impact your car insurance premium could be helpful.
Hit-and-runs in Delaware
A hit-and-run in Delaware is defined as an accident between two or more vehicles where the responsible driver does not stop to exchange information with the other drivers. Nationwide, the rate of hit-and-run accidents is increasing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities in hit-and-run crashes increased 26 percent from 2019 to 2020.
Delaware hit-and-run laws
In Delaware, drivers are legally required to pull over immediately after an accident. If anyone is injured, the at-fault driver is also required to call emergency services and render aid if possible. Additionally, the at-fault driver is required to provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license details to the other parties involved.
The at-fault driver in a hit-and-run is fully liable for the other driver’s losses. If a driver hits another vehicle and flees the scene, they could receive a fine between $230 and $1,150 or jail time between 60 days and six months. In addition, their license may be suspended for six months.
How do hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in Delaware?
If you cause a Delaware hit-and-run accident and are caught, you could face serious fines. Additionally, this would go on your driving record and may cause car insurance companies to consider you a high-risk driver. You could be charged higher premiums compared to drivers with a clean driving record for years after the incident, depending on the carrier. Your current car insurance company could decline to renew your policy, and other companies may decline to offer you coverage, limiting your options for affordable car insurance.
5 Things to do after a hit-and-run in Delaware
If you get into a hit-and-run accident in Delaware, the first thing you should do is assess the situation and make sure everyone, including yourself, is safe. Here are some steps to follow:
- Contact medical services. If anyone is injured, dial 911 for medical attention.
- Move out of traffic or call roadside assistance. If it is safe to drive your vehicle, consider moving out of the flow of traffic to the shoulder or a nearby parking lot.
- Call the police. Calling the police as soon as possible ensures that you have a record of the accident. The police will file an official report and record any details you can remember about the other vehicle to help locate the driver.
- Take photos of the damage. If your vehicle sustained damage, take photos at the scene. Photo evidence might help your insurance company determine the severity of the claim and what type of repairs will need to happen. If you were injured and received medical attention, keep a record of your treatments and expenses.
- Notify your insurance company. If you want to file a claim for your damage using your own insurance policy (assuming the other driver has not been found to take responsibility), you will need to call your insurance carrier. An agent will walk you through the process of filing a claim and may be able to discuss what your policy will cover.
Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?
Certain types of car insurance coverage may help cover damages following a hit-and-run accident. If you have a full coverage insurance policy, your collision insurance could pay for your vehicle’s repairs, and personal injury protection (PIP) — which is required in Delaware — may reimburse you for any medical treatment you received, plus lost wages if injuries prevent you from working.
You may also be able to use your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage after a hit-and-run. These coverage types are optional in Delaware, but if you have them on your policy, they could be useful. You may have to prove that the other driver was uninsured or underinsured to open up these coverage types, though. Talking to your insurance company about how an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim would be handled is the best way to understand your options with these coverage types.
Frequently asked questions
The average cost of car insurance in Delaware is $1,963 per year for a full coverage policy and $747 per year for a minimum coverage policy. However, every driver pays a different rate based on their personal rating factors. Some of the factors that impact car insurance rates include ZIP code, age, credit score, claim history and driving record, so it may be helpful to keep these things in mind as you look for the best car insurance.
Delaware hit-and-run laws may consider the incident to be a felony if the accident resulted in the death of any individual.
Hit-and-run accidents are usually investigated by law enforcement, but the process can take weeks or even months, especially if there is limited evidence. The amount of time an investigation takes will depend on the unique circumstances of the incident. Sometimes, hit-and-run drivers are never caught, which is why having insurance coverage of your own to fall back on may be important.