I Was Injured in a Hit-and-Run and the At-Fault Driver Can’t Be Located, Now What?
Vehicle accidents can be terrifying, particularly if there are any injuries or property damage to contend with. In general, most people are able to secure compensation if they are involved in an accident caused by the negligent actions of another driver. However, hit-and-run accidents are not uncommon in and around our area. Here, we want to talk about what you can do if you have been involved in an accident caused by a hit-and-run driver that cannot be located by law enforcement.
Hit-and-run Accidents are not Uncommon
According to the Washington Department of Transportation, we can see that there were more than 111,000 total vehicle accidents during the latest reporting year across the state. However, while the DOT keeps track of many statistics related to vehicle accidents, one thing they do not make public is how many accidents involve hit-and-run drivers. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that a hit-and-run crash occurs in the US approximately every 43 seconds.
Any type of hit-and-run offense in Washington is against the law. Depending on the severity of the incident, a person could face misdemeanor or felony charges for striking another vehicle and fleeing the scene. All drivers in Washington are required to stop when an accident occurs. In this state, drivers are required to report an automobile accident if any of the following occurs (Washington Codes (Motor Vehicles) § 46.52.030):
- Property damage of $700.00 or more
What to Do if You are in a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you have been injured or sustained property damage in a hit-and-run accident in Washington, your number one priority should be ensuring that you received medical care. Do not, under any circumstances, try to chase down a driver that attempts to flee the scene. That is the job of the police. By seeking immediate medical care, you are ensuring your well-being while also establishing a direct link between your injuries and the crash.
You need to call 911 to report the crash. When you are talking to the dispatcher to let them know where the crash occurred, let them know that the other driver involved fled the scene. Try to tell the dispatcher as much as you can remember about the other driver, including their physical description as well as a description of their vehicle (make, model, color). It is okay if you do not remember all of the details.
We encourage drivers who are able to do so at the scene of a crash to use their phone or another type of camera to take photographs of anything that could be relevant to the case. This could include:
- Vehicle damage
- Skid marks or debris
- Possible causes of the crash
If there were any eyewitnesses to the crash, you should try to get their names and contact information so they can provide statements to law enforcement officials or the insurance carrier(s).
Check Your Insurance and Call an Attorney
You will want to check your vehicle insurance policy to see whether or not you carry uninsured motorist coverage. If you do, then you will likely be able to cover most of your medical bills caused by the incident. Additionally, if you carry basic personal injury protection (PIP), then you will also have additional coverage for your immediate medical needs.
We also suggest speaking to a skilled Seattle car accident attorney who has experience handling hit-and-run crashes. An attorney can use their resources and work with law enforcement officials and other parties involved to help ensure that you receive compensation if other routes become available. If the hit-and-run driver is caught, an attorney will be able to explore all options, including the driver’s insurance carrier or a personal injury lawsuit.