Hit-and-run accidents occur more frequently than many people expect in Washington State and across the country. According to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there are an average of 682,000 hit-and-run collisions in the U.S. every year, and hit-and-run fatalities have been on the rise for several years. When a person is injured in a hit-and-run accident in Washington State, how should they expect the claims process to work? Our Washington State personal injury lawyers have information to help you.
Determine Whether the Police Can Identify the Hit-and-Run Driver
In terms of the claims process and seeking full compensation for your losses, it will be important to determine whether the police will be able to identify the hit-and-run driver. If the hit-and-run driver is caught, that person can face serious criminal consequences under Washington State law. The law states:
“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 . . .”
If the hit-and-run driver can be apprehended and identified, you may be able to file an auto insurance claim through the driver’s insurance and/or a lawsuit against that driver—we will explain more about that below. If the driver cannot be identified, you will need to determine if you have the right kind of auto insurance coverage to pay for your losses.
File an Auto Insurance Claim
Washington State is a tort state for purposes of auto insurance requirements and coverage, but it also allows motorists to purchase optional personal injury protection coverage (PIP coverage), uninsured motorist coverage (commonly known as UM coverage), and MedPay coverage.
If the hit-and-run driver can be identified, you can likely file a third-party auto insurance claim through that driver’s liability insurance, and it will not necessarily matter if you have purchased these additional forms of coverage. If the driver cannot be located, you will need to determine if you have any of the types of coverage identified above and whether they may provide compensation after a hit-and-run crash. A car accident lawyer in Washington can help with this.
File a Lawsuit Against the Hit-and-Run Driver
Finally, if the police are able to identify the hit-and-run driver—regardless of whether that person is ultimately convicted of any criminal charges—you may be eligible to file a car accident lawsuit against that driver for any losses that are not covered by your insurance claim. This lawsuit will be a civil claim, which means it will not result in criminal consequences for the hit-and-run motorist, but rather will allow you to seek financial compensation from them. You should be sure to have a lawyer on your side when you are filing a car accident claim.
Contact a Washington State Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney
If you or someone you love got hurt in a hit-and-run accident, you should seek advice from a Washington State car accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact Khan Law Firm for assistance.