A hit-and-run accident is a car crash where one of the involved drivers breaks the law by fleeing the scene without stopping, rendering aid or reporting it to the authorities. A hit-and-run accident can have devastating consequences, as a victim may not receive the prompt medical care that he or she needs. If you get involved in a hit-and-run accident in Washington, contact an attorney at NW Injury Law Center for assistance with what steps to take next.
Check for Injuries
First, check yourself and everyone else involved in the car accident for injuries. Keep in mind that you may be injured even if you initially feel fine. The adrenaline from the hit-and-run accident may mask pain for the first several hours. If you do have injuries or notice any pain, numbness or tingling anywhere in your body, call the police and request an ambulance without delay. If anyone else has been injured, you have a legal obligation to render aid. This may mean taking the victim to the hospital or calling 911.
Call 911 Immediately
Pull over in a safe location and use your cell phone to notify local law enforcement of the hit-and-run accident. In Washington, you are legally required to report a car accident that results in injuries, deaths or at least $1,000 in property damage. You should always report a hit-and-run crash, however, even if it is minor. The police can investigate your accident to help identify the at-fault driver. When the police arrive, give them your side of the story, but do not admit fault for the accident. Request your police report number before you leave the scene.
Try to Remember Details About the Other Driver
It is against the law for drivers in Washington to leave the scene of a car accident without stopping. If you get involved in a hit-and-run accident, do your best to remember everything you can about the other driver so that you can bring him or her to justice. This may include the other car’s vehicle make, model and color, and any identifying markings or features, such as bumper stickers or previous crash damage. If you saw any of the vehicle’s license plate numbers, write them down.
Gather Other Evidence
While you are still at the scene of the hit-and-run, do your best to collect other evidence that may be useful during an investigation or personal injury claim. This can include photographs and video footage of the scene, eyewitness statements, and the time, date, and exact location of the crash. In the days and weeks following your crash, request copies of your police report and medical records to use during your claim.
Seek Medical Treatment for Injuries
If you suffered any injuries in the car accident, go to a hospital for professional medical care right away. Insurance companies check to see if claimants sought medical assistance and how long they waited, if at all. Delays in treatment could give the insurer a reason to reject your claim or diminish your financial benefits. Follow your doctor’s orders and treatment plan during your recovery.
File a Claim With Your Own Car Insurance Company
In a hit-and-run crash you may not know the identity of the at-fault driver. You may have to seek benefits from your own car insurance provider. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, this will pay for your hit-and-run car accident. Your insurance carrier will treat the claim as if the at-fault driver stopped at the scene but did not have enough insurance to pay for your losses. If the other vehicle makes no physical contact with your vehicle, however, the accident must be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency within seventy-two hours or you may not be able to recover benefits.
Consult With a Washington Car Accident Lawyer
A hit-and-run car accident case can be complicated. Your car insurance policy may not have the right type of coverage to pay for your medical bills and property damage, for example, or your insurance company may make it difficult to receive the financial compensation that you deserve for a serious injury. You may need a car accident lawyer in Vancouver to represent you and provide legal advocacy during the claims process.