You’re walking to your car, which is parked on side of the street in front of your house and you notice streaks of red paint transfer and a large dent on the body of your car. You have been a victim of a hit and run accident. Unfortunately, this type of incident happens quite often, and it can leave you, the innocent motorist, feeling very frustrated. You are weary of filing a claim on your insurance because you’re afraid your premium will increase. The next week, you are driving through your neighborhood and notice a red car, within close proximity to your home, that appears to have sustained similar paint transfer damage to their car, and you suspect they might be the culprit. What do you do?
First thing you should do, if you haven’t already, is to call your local police department and file a hit and run claim. The officers will come to the scene, take your statement, inspect yours and the suspect’s vehicle, and will file a report for you. They may also be able to obtain the suspect vehicle’s insurance information by conducting a search in their vehicle registry database. Be sure to write down the officer’s name, badge number, report number, and any other relevant information if the officer hasn’t already done so for you. This information will become vital to your insurance claim, should you choose to file.
Next, contact your insurance company. Let them know the situation, and give them every detail you have, including the information from the officers who arrived at the scene. An investigator will likely come to the scene, with warranted permission, and collect forensic evidence from both vehicles. DO NOT attempt to collect paint transfer samples on your own! The process of collecting said evidence involves physically scraping the paint transfer off the vehicle using a scalpel or razor, and should only be conducted by trained professionals. It is illegal to intentionally damage someone else’s property, so DO NOT attempt to do this on your own, or you will find yourself in a legal dispute as well. Let your insurance company work for you!
The special investigator will collect three samples: one from the insured vehicle, a second from the paint transfer, and a third from the suspected source. Armstrong Forensic Laboratory provides paint transfer sample collection kits containing certified clean, unused tools to aid in the sample collection process. The investigator will submit the three samples, and our highly trained analysts will compare the three samples, and can prove whether or not the red car in your neighborhood is the culprit.
Armstrong Forensic Laboratory is an American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors – Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD-LAB) ISO 17025 accredited laboratory for paint and fibers; among many other designations. This, in essence, means we are certified to conduct paint transfer analysis, and our reports can be used in civil or criminal litigation. If you have been involved in an incident similar to the one described in the beginning of this post, please do not try to remedy the situation yourself. There are plenty of trained professionals, namely those from your insurance company, who can, and will, assist you through this not-so-pleasant experience.
If you have any further questions about the process, call us at 817-275-2691, or simply fill out the ‘Ask An Expert’ form on our website, and someone will contact you shortly afterward. Additionally, you can view the links below for more information and advice.
An article with different case studies in which clients knowingly file fraudulent claims shows how investigators are able to analyze the vehicle paint transfer in order to prove or disprove a client’s claim.
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