Seattle Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyers
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.
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. 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 Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on your side, you can focus on healing while we protect your best interests.
Let our Seattle car accident attorneys deal with the insurance company after your hit-and-run accident in Washington. Free consultation at (888) 228-3860.
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 his or her 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, 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 Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we represent hit-and-run victims in pursuit of the maximum in compensation from all available sources.
How Do I 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 all Washington motorcycle riders to purchase uninsured motorist coverage as part of their motorcycle 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 FAQs
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.
A: 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:
A: 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.
A: 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
A: 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.
A: 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 WA car accident attorney beforehand and allowing him or her to represent you.
A: 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 Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S.
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 Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., 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) 228-3860 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
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- Pedestrian Accident
- Property Damage
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- Rental Car or Truck Accident
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