A Seattle hit and run accident attorney can help you navigate the aftermath of a hit and run. If you’re involved in a car accident, it is important to stay on the scene. If you leave the scene of the accident you are now involved in a hit & run. In Washington, a hit and run is a criminal offense. The driver who stayed can pursue you for damages and injuries. Additionally, you could face jail time, fines, restitution, increased insurance costs, and a long-term criminal record.
A Seattle hit and run accident attorney can help you navigate the claims process. An attorney can help you:
You may be wondering how you can financially recover after a driver leaves the scene of the crime. A skilled hit and run accident lawyer in Seattle can assist you in finding the hit and run motorist and filing a claim against their insurance company. An attorney can:
A Seattle injury attorney can also help you recover from your own insurance. Your collision coverage may cover repair to your vehicle but it will not cover any injuries or medical bills. You may have to pay your deductible to receive coverage; in the event that the at-fault driver is found, your hit and run accident attorney can help you recover your deductible from the at-fault driver as well as the following damages if you experienced injuries in the accident:
You may be able to recover more money from your insurance if you have any of the following coverages:
Washington does not require that drivers carry the above coverage. We recommend that every driver purchase the above coverage from their insurance company to protect themselves from a hit and run driver.
Insurance companies will work hard to pay out as little as possible from your policy. A skilled Seattle hit and run accident lawyer can assist you in strengthening your accident case so the insurance company has no option but to pay out the required claim amount.
Washington courts allow up to 3 years from the date of an accident to file a claim for personal injury after an accident. If you don’t discover the injury right away, you have up to 3 years from the date that you discovered the injury to file a claim. For those who are under the age of 18 when the accident occurs, the statute of limitations begins on their 18th birthday and they have 3 years from that date to file a claim.
Washington’s courts allow exceptions to the 3-year statute of limitations in some cases of evasion of justice when an at-fault person evades justice by fleeing. Ask a hit and run accident attorney how this exception could impact your case if the person at-fault remains unidentified or is identified after the statute of limitations runs out.
It’s always best to file a claim sooner rather than later. Once you have a good indication of the severity of your injuries, the amount of medical treatment you’ll require, and how much time you’ll miss from work, it’s best to contact a hit and run collision lawyer and file a claim while the evidence is still fresh and obtainable and witness statements are still reliable.
Because Washington is an at-fault state with a comparative fault system, it matters who causes an accident. While you cannot make a claim for property damage or personal injury against an unknown person at-fault in an accident, you may still collect compensation under your own insurance policy if your policy includes uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If your policy includes property damage coverage and bodily injury coverage, this policy steps in and covers your damages in the event that the investigators fail to identify the at-fault party.
If your policy only covers collisions without uninsured motorist coverage, you may be responsible for your injuries, while your insurance covers your property damage to repair or replace your vehicle, though you may be responsible for the deductible.
Sadly, pedestrians injured in a hit and run have no recourse for personal injury claims in a pedestrian hit and run while the driver at-fault remains unidentified.
Washington criminalizes hit and runs. There are two types of hit and runs defined under Washington law:
An unattended hit and run occurs when a driver’s car strikes a parked, unattended vehicle. When this happens, by law, they must inform the vehicle’s owner, either by waiting for them, locating them, or leaving a note with their contact and insurance information for the driver. This also applies to any incident where a driver hits a stationary object, such as a gate, fence, structure, or mailbox, and causes property damage.
An attended hit and run occurs when a driver has an accident with another vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian and then leaves the scene of the accident. By law, in this circumstance, the driver must remain at the scene until emergency services arrive and only after law enforcement officers have all of the information they need, such as contact and insurance information.
Injuries may be severe in hit and run accidents. Often, the severity of the injuries involved frightens the hit and run driver into leaving the scene for fear of repercussions. The type of injuries resulting from a hit and run accident involving two or more vehicles include injuries such as:
The most severe injuries occur in vehicle vs. pedestrian hit and run accidents. This type of accident may cause the following injuries:
Any serious injury is life-altering, either temporarily or permanently in the most severe cases, but when an injury occurs in a hit and run accident it can be even more distressing for victims. Physical and emotional pain mix with frustration and sometimes anger over the person responsible. A hit and run attorney in Seattle may be able to help bring both compensation and closure in your hit and run case.
Insurance companies hire adjusters whose jobs exist to minimize payouts and find reasons to deny claims so companies make profits by taking in more in premiums than they pay out in claims. For this reason, adjusters commonly use the following tactics to deny claims:
These and other tactics commonly used by insurance companies can make it difficult to gain full financial compensation after a hit and run accident.
People leave the scene of an accident for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons we see are:
Penalties that result from these infractions are often much less than hit and run penalties.
Impaired drivers lack the response time and control of unimpaired drivers, sometimes resulting in accidents. When a driver has consumed alcohol or drugs, they may fear a DUI charge and further criminal penalties for causing injuries or death; therefore, they flee the scene instead of stopping to render aid and face penalties. In some cases, impaired drivers come forward later, once the substance has left their system to avoid the worst charges while coming clean about their part in the accident, hiding the fact of their intoxication.
In some cases, uninsured drivers may flee the scene out of fear of losing their driver’s license, facing fines, or finding themselves personally liable to pay for damages and injuries.
Drivers with suspended licenses, outstanding warrants, previous traffic accidents, or other legal problems may leave the scene of an accident to avoid facing further penalties and/or criminal charges.
In some cases, hit and runs are caused by criminals fleeing the scene of another crime or driving a stolen vehicle so they fail to stop to render aid or call for help because they’re fleeing other charges.
While most drivers do the right thing, sometimes even drivers who are not intoxicated, uninsured, or facing legal problems simply panic and leave the scene. Young, immature drivers are sometimes guilty of this, especially if they don’t understand the legal consequences of being involved in an accident.
Never chase after a hit-and-run driver. Not only could this worsen your injuries, any passenger injuries, and damage to your vehicle in cases of a vehicular hit and run, but by leaving the scene of the accident, you also become guilty of a hit and run. Instead, by keeping a clear head after the trauma of a hit and run, you can protect your physical and financial well-being. If you’re terribly injured in a hit and run, remain in place and wait for help to arrive. However, if you’re able to move without worsening your injuries, by taking the following steps you can protect yourself and others:
By taking these steps you can begin the process of recovering from the pain, distress, and economic damages of a hit and run accident.
If you are facing a possible hit and run conviction, The Fang Law Firm can help. Our skilled hit and run accident lawyers have decades of experience in accident litigation. We will help you mount the best case possible to reduce your fines or jail time. Call us today at (206) 489-5140 for a free case consultation. One of our knowledgeable attorneys is standing by to review your case.
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