Victim of a hit-and-run? Understand your rights!
Touch wood! Let’s hope that we don’t ever have to experience a case of a hit-and-run. These cases happen quite often even in Malaysia, some have even caused death, others may not be as severe. It is useful to understand how to handle such a case, so we can be better prepared when faced with this kind of mishap.
What is a Hit-and-Run?
First of all, what is considered a hit-and-run? A hit-and-run is a situation where there has been a road accident/ collision, where the perpetrator (one who caused the accident) leaves the scene without stopping and identifying himself so that proper investigation can be conducted.
Why drivers resort to hitting-and-running?
There could be many reasons why people might escape the scene after causing an accident, some of them could be as follows:
a) They may already have a criminal record and would not want to be “found” or indicted
b) They may at the time of the accident, not having in possession a valid driving license, insurance or road-tax
c) They panicked!
As the victim of a hit-and-run, the implications can be many. From the emotional grievances caused, to time taken to hunt the culprit down, and also the financial loss in having to repair your damaged vehicle.
As much as we do not wish such unfortunate event happening to anyone, we also do not want to see anyone caught unprepared. So we are here to help you understand your rights in the case of a hit-and-run, and what measures to take if ever you have fallen victim to one, so that you can focus on the quickest solution and not waste unnecessary time and effort doing things that will not contribute to solving your case.
What do I do now?
Ok so someone just hit your car and fled the scene, your car is damaged. First thing first:. Did you manage to get his car registration number? We will look at both scenarios:
Scenario 1: Phew, I took down the registration number!
Good! It is extremely crucial that you get the registration number of the car so that proper actions can be taken. The process may take some time and effort, so you have a choice on how you want to handle it. You can:
A. Pay on Your Own
Send your car for repair and pay for it on your own without claiming from any insurance company (including your own). This makes sense if the damage is minor and you don’t mind paying for the cost yourself, as pursuing the case would just take too much of your time and energy. It also makes sense to do this if you do not want to lose your NCD.
Advantage: Safe time and trouble, retain your NCD
Disadvantage: Need to fork out your own money
B. Claim from Your Insurance
If you have a Comprehensive Policy, you can claim from your insurance company for the repair cost under “Own Damage Claim”. Give a call to your insurance agent or company to understand what the claim procedure is, it should be quick and easy. The downside to this however, is that you lose your NCD entitlement.
Advantage: You do not lose money
Disadvantage: Lose your NCD
C. Claim from Other Party
You take actions, report the crime to the police and file with your insurance company. Make sure you state to the police the vehicle number of the runner. As said, this may take some time and effort but a helpful agent should be able to assist in settling the case as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Advantage: You do not lose money, You can retain your NCD
Disadvantage: Long and tedious process
So here’s what you need to do, if you want to claim from the other party:
(i) File a police report ASAP
With the information and evidence that you have, file a report at the Balai Polis Trafik within 24 hours of the incident. Explain clearly what had happened to the officer in charge. If the other party does not come forward and make a report, the police will issue a summon to him based on the car registration number that you have obtained. Once he received the summon, he will need to come to the police station to file for his report. If he does not do so, the police will most likely decide in favor of the party who had made a report, in this case, YOU.
(ii) Report to your insurance company
Notify your insurance agent and/ or company asap. With the report as your evidence, your insurance company will then proceed with claiming against the other party’s insurance company by identifying the driver through the car registration number via JPJ. Your insurance company will take care of the rest without you having to do anything else, other than sending your car for repair. You do not have to claim against your insurance and your NCD is not affected.
(iii) Get advice from your insurance company
Your insurance agent/ company will advise you on the steps that you need to take next, that is where to send your car for repair, and how to file for a claim.
Above would be the best case scenario for you in case you have fallen victim to a hit-and-run. However, some cases may not be as simple.
Scenario 2: But I didn’t get the car registration number! What now?
Was there an eyewitness around that may have identified the number? Was there a CCTV nearby which may have recorded the incident? If there is no way that you can identify the car, then the only thing left that you could do is either to:
A. Send your car for repair and pay for it on your own
B. Claim from your Comprehensive Policy as “Own Damage Claim” (and lose your NCD).
Scenario 3: Other party is now claiming that the accident was your fault!
Another scenario that may happen is when the other party comes forward and makes a report saying that the accident was YOUR fault. Hopefully you have enough evidence and eyewitnesses to counter this claim and prove that you are innocent. But if you don’t, and the police or court are not able to determine the party at fault, then what will usually happen is that both the insurance companies will assume that both parties are at fault. This means that you will not be able to claim from the other party’s Third Party Cover, and that you can only claim from your own Comprehensive Policy, or pay for the damage yourself.
Scenario 4: The other party does not even have a valid insurance cover!
If the accident is the other party’s fault, your insurance company would act on your behalf and claim damages from his Third Party Cover. However, if it turns out that he has been driving illegally without a valid insurance policy, then this will go through the legal procedure. If the court decides in your favor, then the other party will need to pay for your damages out of their pocket in addition to a fine by court for driving illegal. This is a very long process and most of the time the other party will not have money to pay for the damages, because they did not have money for the insurance in the first place.
We would love to hear from you. Please drop us any comment you have or share your own experience during an accident with us. Don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page to get notification on our latest blog articles.