Unfortunately, car accidents do happen. Most of the time, if your injuries aren’t immediately life-threatening, the police are called, and both drivers involved exchange insurance information. However, there are times when an accident occurs, and the other driver flees the scene. You’re stuck there with a damaged vehicle and, quite possibly, severe injuries. If the other driver left the scene, how are you compensated for your damages?
If you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run incident, contact a car accident lawyer. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and explain which avenues you can explore to ensure that you’re compensated.
What To Do After a Hit-and-Run in Washington
An automobile accident of any kind can be an incredibly stressful event. For some, tempers can run high, while others are anxious and afraid. It’s a different situation when you’re involved in a collision, and the other driver just takes off, leaving the accident scene. Here’s what you should do if you’re involved in a hit-and-run.
- Stay calm
- Call 911
- If possible, see if anyone witnessed the accident and get their contact information
- Take photos of the accident scene
- Write down or record an audio message on your phone of any details you remember of the vehicle that hit you
There are several different reasons why someone would flee after an automobile accident. Under no circumstances should a victim of a hit-and-run attempt to apprehend the other driver. Leaving the scene is illegal and could also cause proving the accident happened much more difficult. A few scenarios that could cause the other driver to flee can include:
- Driving with a suspended license
- No auto insurance
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The vehicle is stolen
- The driver has outstanding arrest warrants
Again, do not try to follow or apprehend the driver who fled the scene. It’s dangerous and foolish and should be left up to law enforcement to sort out what happened.
How To Get Compensation in a Washington Hit-and-Run Incident
Once you’ve tended to your medical needs, you want to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Navigating a basic car crash case can be incredibly difficult without the guidance of a legal professional, and a hit-and-run case adds another dimension to an already complex process. In Washington, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is 3 years. This also applies to hit-and-run accidents.
Your personal injury attorney can assist with trying to locate the identity of the driver who fled the accident. This can be done by working with the police department and contacting eyewitnesses who may provide important details such as the vehicle’s make, model, color, and, most importantly, the license plate number. Your attorney can also investigate to see if any traffic or local business surveillance cameras may provide valuable details of the accident.
Unfortunately, without knowing the identity of the offending driver, you’ll be hard-pressed to file a personal injury lawsuit. To do so, you would need to know who the other vehicle’s driver is and who their vehicle insurance carrier is if they indeed have insurance.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Unfortunately, the majority of hit-and-run drivers are never found. If this happens, some victims can still collect compensation for their damages. Washington is one of the many “fault” states, meaning that compensation for car accident cases is typically sought after from the at-fault driver. However, this only applies to victims who’ve purchased uninsured motorist insurance.
This additional coverage is not mandatory in Washington and would have had to have been purchased to cover any damages from an accident with an under or uninsured driver. If you have this additional rider on your insurance policy, you can request compensation directly from your carrier. It will cover medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering up to the policy’s limit.
Unfortunately, not all drivers carry uninsured motorist insurance. Those that do could be disappointed with the compensation they’ll receive. Some insurance policies will initially decline the claim or limit compensation. Your personal injury attorney can help to negotiate a better settlement with them.
Hit-and-Run Accidents and Compensation: Your Options Explained
Being compensated after a hit-and-run situation can be an exercise in frustration. If the police can identify and apprehend the at-fault driver, you can file a personal injury lawsuit for your physical injuries and material losses. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case. Without the at-fault driver, your only option is to carry uninsured motorist insurance. If that’s the case, you can attempt to obtain compensation through your insurance company.
No matter what type of car accident, a hit-and-run or once where the driver didn’t flee the scene, it’s always in your best interest to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. They have the know-how and savvy to ensure you receive compensation and justice.