Victim Of A Hit-And-Run?
Drivers who leave the scene of an accident are committing a criminal act. Why would a driver leave the scene of an accident? In some instances the driver was drunk, under the influence of drugs, driving without a license or insurance or just wants to avoid taking responsibility for the accident. If you were injured by a hit-and-run driver, it may be necessary to seek compensation for damages from your own auto insurance or other existing insurance policies.
There is a fight-or-flight response that occurs immediately after a crash, which is stressful for everyone involved. However, when a larger vehicle strikes a smaller vehicle, such as a motorcycle or bicycle, the larger vehicle may not suffer much damage – some front-end damage or a broken side-view mirror. Since motorists are in a position to drive away, some flee the scene instead of contacting authorities and, most importantly, helping the injured victim. The law requires all Washington motorists to stay put in the event of a collision.
It is not uncommon for accident victims to feel disoriented or overwhelmed for days or even weeks after a crash, especially those who were on a two-wheeled vehicle. With Pendergast Law on your side, you can focus on healing while we protect your best interests.
This is a very professional, efficient and honest law firm! I was the victim of a hit and run at Pike Street Market…Today, I feel twice blessed – to have made a long recovery in a short time for what should have been a fatal accident or serious injury – and to have received generous compensation for the potentially deadly rendezvous in a crosswalk with a speeding automobile going in excess of 40 MPH.
– Ronald B. from Google
Washington Law: Hit-And-Run
State law RCW 26.52.020 states the following:
“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.”
After a driver has fled the scene of an accident, there is no way to gain access to that party’s insurance company. Law enforcement will attempt to identify the driver, but in some cases, this is impossible. The injured person is now unable to seek compensation from the responsible driver and must rely on their own insurance policies for compensation. Even if you were involved in an accident as a bicyclist, your medical bills and hospital expenses may be covered by your personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured/underinsured motorist or medical payment (MedPay) plans. If the insurance provider refuses to provide adequate coverage for your losses, your attorney can handle the necessary negotiations and work to protect your right to fair compensation.
Additionally, in the state of Washington, you may apply for crime victims compensation through the Department of Labor and Industries. While the amount of coverage provided through this service is minimal at best, it can be a valuable source of support.
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always treat their own clients fairly. Lowball settlement offers are common. You may have been a loyal customer, paying your premiums year after year, but when you finally file a claim, you may experience problems. It is important that you do not attempt to negotiate with the insurance company directly.
If you find yourself in such a situation, it is critical that you be represented by an accomplished hit-and-run attorney who will evaluate the facts, review all insurance policies and file the claims on your behalf. At Pendergast Law, we represent hit-and-run victims in pursuit of the maximum in compensation from all available sources.
How Do You Know Who The Driver Was?
The hardest part of any Washington hit-and-run case is figuring out who caused the collision. Police officers frequently investigate the scene of a hit-and-run accident to find clues as to the identity of the driver who did not stop at the scene. Tire tracks, paint chips, broken vehicle parts and witness statements can all point officials toward a hit-and-run driver.
A skilled car accident attorney will stay abreast of the official investigation to ensure that the at-fault party is held accountable for their wrongdoing. However, in some cases, authorities may not be able to identify or apprehend the hit-and-run suspect. In such cases, financial support may still be available for the victim. That is why it is in the best interest of Washington drivers, including motorcycle riders, to purchase uninsured motorist coverage as part of their insurance policy.
How Common Are Hit-And-Runs?
According to the AAA, in about 11% of all auto accidents, one driver leaves the scene of the collision. The agency characterizes this decision as “cold-blooded, inhumane, and unconscionable.” If you were the victim of a hit-and-run, it is important that you are able to recover as much as possible in compensation, particularly in cases of serious injury.
Seattle Hit-And-Run FAQ
The hours, days and weeks following a hit-and-run accident can be a blur. If you were severely injured or suffered significant property damage, you have a number of questions on your mind. This is especially true if you have lost a loved one because of the reckless behavior of a hit-and-run driver. For any general inquiries or information on hit-and-run collisions, follow the frequently asked questions below.
What are some common injuries associated with hit-and-run accidents?
Unfortunately, pedestrians are often the ones who pay the price for a hit-and-run driver’s negligence. When hit-and-run accidents between two cars happen, drivers are less likely to flee the scene because of damage inflicted on their own cars. Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists can be left critically injured, with one or more of the following damages:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Severe lacerations, including amputations
- Broken limbs
- Organ failure
What should I do if I have been involved in a hit-and-run accident or witnessed one?
The first thing you must do is contact the police. The sooner the authorities are able to get to the scene, provide aid and track down the responsible individual, the better. This will play a major role in how much compensation you will be able to recover. Do not attempt to chase or apprehend the individual, as you may end up causing additional damage in the process.
Should I contact a lawyer if I was in a hit-and-run accident?
Hit-and-run accidents are difficult cases to handle on your own and having an attorney at your side can make the process significantly easier. First and foremost, if the at-fault driver is caught, then you will want a personal injury attorney on hand to begin a personal injury claim. In addition, we can collect evidence (some of which may be useful for catching the driver), handle all communication between law enforcement and insurance companies and advocate for full compensation on your behalf during negotiations and in a trial. If the driver is not caught, we may also help you negotiate with your own insurance company to ensure your policy is upheld and you receive proper compensation for your injuries.
Can I collect compensation for a hit-and-run accident?
Collecting compensation for a hit-and-run may seem difficult, but it is possible. If the police can find the driver, you may be able to collect compensation through their auto insurance policy. If they do not have insurance, then you may file a claim against them personally. However, if the driver does not have insurance, then they probably cannot afford a personal injury claim and you may not receive the full amount of compensation owed to you. It is these situations when uninsured motorist insurance can help cover damages sustained in a hit-and-run accident.
What kind of compensation will I be able to collect from a hit-and-run claim?
Victims of hit-and-run accidents can suffer terrible injuries, sometimes life-threatening or even fatal. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation, which could include:
- Emergency medical treatment and hospital bills
- Emotional and mental anguish
- Loss of wages or employment
- Property damage
- Wrongful death
Can I collect if the driver is never caught?
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to make a claim against the hit-and-run driver or his insurance company if he’s never caught. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you will be able to seek compensation from your own policy.
Should I contact my insurer or deal with them directly?
While you can deal with your insurance company directly, we advise you not to. Insurance companies are businesses. They will do everything in their power to preserve their bottom line. This includes keeping your payment as low as possible. We highly recommend speaking with a Washington car accident attorney beforehand and allowing him or her to represent you.
When should I file my claim?
As soon as possible. Insurance companies keep close tabs on how quickly you act and can use any delay against you. The sooner you hire a dedicated Seattle personal injury attorney, the better your odds will be of getting the proper settlement.
Contact A Seattle Hit-And-Run Accident Attorney At Pendergast Law
Whether as a motorist, pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcyclist, if you or a loved one was the victim of a hit-and-run collision, reach out to us. There are options for seeking compensation, which is made easier for you when you have our car accident lawyers protecting your interests.
The Seattle hit-and-run accident attorneys at Pendergast Law, will review every detail and fact in your case, including the insurances you carry that could be accessed to pay you compensation. We take the problem off your shoulders so you can focus on recovering your health while we deal with the insurance companies for you. To have your questions answered and learn about your options, call us at 888-539-9211 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.