Under most circumstances, after a car accident, the at-fault driver will (hopefully) stop and take responsibility for their actions. This is not always the case. If you’re involved in a motor vehicle collision and the other driver leaves the scene, it’s considered a hit and run. In fact, Washington law specifically prescribes that drivers must immediately stop and exchange information. RCW 46.52.020 requires drivers involved in injury and non-injury collisions to stop and provide his or her “name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicle license number” to other involved parties. Failing to stop and provide the necessary information may be a crime.
If you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident and the at-fault driver ignores Washington law, what steps should you take to protect yourself, your car, and any possible insurance claim? These types of claims can certainly create complications and taking these few steps can help ensure a smoother process.
Call 911. As previously mentioned, Washington law requires drivers to stop and exchange information after a car accident. Providing all pertinent details to the police – like vehicle make, model, and color – will help the authorities locate the at-fault driver. If the other driver is found, you then have the ability to bring a claim against them or their insurance company. If the other driver is not found, calling the authorities is typically required under your own auto insurance policy to maintain a claim.
Document the Scene. After pulling to the side of the road, do your best to document everything that happened. Perhaps take some notes explaining exactly what happened. Definitely pull out your phone to take as many photographs as are needed to show the entire scene and damages.
Look for Witnesses. Insurance adjusters prefer independent witnesses. If you’re involved in a hit and run collision, look around to see if any witnesses saw what happened. The eyewitness accounts of what happened will be an invaluable tool for establishing your version of events.
Report to Your Insurance Company. You have a duty to cooperate with your auto insurance company and to allow them an appropriate opportunity to investigate. Reporting a hit and run collision to your insurance company allows the adjusters the chance to look for witnesses, speak with authorities, and review all necessary information. This information will help you and your insurer move forward with a claim against the at-fault driver or under your own auto policy.
Seek Medical Care. Just because the other driver drove off without providing information or waiting for police doesn’t mean you weren’t hurt in the collision. The forces of the collision were imparted on your body regardless of the what happened after-the-fact. If you’re suffering from pain or limitation after an auto accident, seeking medical attention is a top priority. Early treatment can mean the difference between lingering pain complaints and a quicker resolution.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney. Whenever complications arise as part of a motor vehicle collision, complications are almost certain for your insurance claim. Lawyers focused on personal injury claims and motor vehicle collisions have the experience necessary to ensure your claim is handled appropriately. The attorneys will help you and your insurance company perform the necessary investigation to ensure you are properly compensated for your damages.
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision or a hit and run accident, the qualified lawyers at Magnuson Lowell PS are here to help. Call today for a free consultation.