Spokane Hit and Run Accident Attorney
Even though fleeing the scene of a car accident can have serious consequences, it’s not uncommon. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident that results in injury or death they are committing a serious criminal act.
Washington State Hit-and-Run Law RCW 46.52.020 states that:
A driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury to or death of any person or involving striking the body of a deceased person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to, and in every event remain at, the scene of such accident until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (3) of this section.
Your Legal Rights as a Hit and Run VictimCausing an accident and leaving the scene is a crime in the state of Washington. It’s a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. From a civil law perspective, which is how you’ll be compensated for the damage caused, you need to determine who the party was that left the scene so that you can pursue them or their insurance company for damages. If the driver of the hit and run is not determined then your own insurance coverage may be your only recourse.
What if the Negligent Driver is Not Caught?If the driver is not caught you may have coverage through your own insurance policy. You’ll want to notify your insurance company and let them know what happened and ask if you have coverage and/or consult with an attorney who can review your coverage. In this day and age, hit and run accidents are often caught on business/intersection/dash/bus or other surveillance camera footage. So there is a chance someone may have the accident on tape. In serious injury cases, private investigators are hired to explore all avenues of finding the responsible party.
Steps to Take After a Hit and Run AccidentBeing in a car accident can be extremely stressful on its own without the added complication of a driver that doesn’t stop to take responsibility. It is important to be prepared in case this happens to you.
1. Evaluate Your InjuriesGet immediate medical attention, even if you don’t immediately feel hurt. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Serious injuries may not be readily apparent immediately following a collision. Plus, it will be helpful to establish a paper trail documenting your injury.
2. Contact the Police within 72 hoursKeeping calm and giving the officers on scene as much information as possible will help them find the hit and run driver and make covering your injuries and property damage easier.
3. Document Your Experience and Gather Evidence
Write down what you remember about the car or driver:
- Vehicle make, model, year
- Vehicle color
- As much of the license plate as you can recall
- Any other distinguishing features of the car or driver
- The direction the driver was heading
If possible take photos and video of the scene and all the vehicles involved. Document and photo any skid marks and final resting places of both vehicles. Obtain the names of all witnesses and talk to them about their observations, and get their contact information.
4. Track ExpensesAny expenses related to your injury should be closely tracked and documented in the days and weeks following the incident. This includes medical bills, lost work hours/wages, transportation costs etc.
5. Contact an Attorney
Never sign anything or accept a settlement agreement without first consulting an attorney—you could be offered much less than you are owed!
To learn more about what steps to take after a car accident read our post 10 Steps You Should Take After an Automobile Accident.
Notify Your Insurance Carrier as Soon as Possible
If the driver of the hit and run can not be identified you’ll need to turn to your own insurance. As part of your insurance policy you’ll have uninsured, and possibly underinsured, motorist coverage which may cover a hit-and-run car accident.
Even if you were not in a vehicle when you were struck by a hit-and-run vehicle, you may still be covered under your own auto insurance policy, your homeowner’s coverage or the policy of another member of your household.
To learn more read our articles on the 8 Things You Should Know About Insurance Companies and Notifying Your Insurance Company of An Automobile Accident.