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How Are Hit-and-Runs Investigated in WA?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on May 19, 2021

Being hit by another vehicle, which then flees the scene, is one of the most unfortunate situations a person can be put in. You may feel hurt, lost, confused, and scared about your future. Even after reporting the collision to the police, you may have no clear idea about how to get your medical bills paid and property damage covered.

But you should not give up hope. In addition to investigating the driver who hit you, a skilled attorney can fight to get you compensation through your own insurance company.

Police Investigations

After a car accident, everyone involved is required to report the collision to the police, according to RCW 26.52.020. Once you notify the authorities, local or state police will arrive at the scene, make sure everyone is safe, request medical attention for anyone who is injured, and begin investigating what went wrong. If the other driver fled the scene, then the officers will speak to you and any other injured parties about what happened.

They may ask for the other driver’s:

  • Physical description
  • License plate
  • Vehicle model and color
  • Direction (which way the driver fled)
  • Any other identifying details

Even if you spoke to the police at the scene, it is important to reach out to them to share any information you think of later. Car accidents can leave drivers and passengers shaken up, making it harder for them to remember certain details right after the collision. In the days to follow, you may remember more details — report them to the police.

If any photos or video were taken of the collision, the police may be able to identify the at-fault driver’s license plate and bring him or her in on hit-and-run charges. At this point, the investigating officers should provide you with the driver’s insurance information, which you can use to file a car accident claim.

Unfortunately, if there is little evidence or information to rely upon, it may take some time for the police to get back to you. It may take weeks or months for Washington Highway Patrol or Seattle Police to update you on your case, and it is a real possibility that the case will go unsolved.

Civil Investigations

In addition to having the police investigate your case, you may be able to rely on the skills and expertise of a Seattle car accident attorney. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we are experienced at investigating auto accidents and collecting evidence of negligence. With our 40 years in the industry, we can use our resources to investigate your case.

The Seattle police have hundreds of cases to investigate and cannot always give each case the time it deserves. Our team, however, has more time and resources to spend investigating auto accidents. We can work closely with accident reconstructionists, local police, and other investigators to help identify the driver who hit you. We also have experience acquiring local traffic camera and CCTV footage of collisions, which may expedite your case.

Our goal is to determine the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to get you compensation in a civil claim. Even if the driver is not found, we can still build evidence of your losses and file a claim with your own insurance company to get your bills paid.

Recovering Compensation Through Your Own Insurance Company

Washington state’s auto insurance laws require all insurance companies to offer drivers uninsured motorist coverage (UM). While optional, this coverage may only be refused in writing, meaning most drivers automatically have it on their policies. UM coverage must also match your liability policy, meaning you would have a minimum policy of:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of another person
  • $50,000 for injury or death of more than one person
  • $10,000 for property damage

UM policies apply to both accidents involving uninsured drivers and hit-and-run accidents. Under this policy, you can file a claim with your own insurance company after a hit-and-run to recover compensation for your injuries.

Collecting money from an insurance company is never easy, and you should only trust your case to a dedicated Seattle personal injury attorney. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we have more than 40 years of experience handling car accident claims for victims throughout the Seattle area. We can investigate the driver who hit you, collect evidence of negligence, and stand up to either the at-fault driver’s or your own insurance company to get you compensation. To learn how, call us at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free (888) 228-3860 for a free consultation.

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