How to Report a Hit-and-Run Accident in Washington
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How to Report a Hit-and-Run Accident in Washington

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Posted on June 25, 2024

Accidents happen suddenly and no one is ever prepared. The accident scene is always frightening and traumatic, especially if you or a loved one suffered injuries. But a distressing situation becomes even worse when the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident. Where does an accident victim go from there, when the driver who caused the accident leaves without offering help, doesn’t give their contact or insurance information, and fails to wait for law enforcement? How do you report a hit-and-run accident and what do you do after the accident to recover compensation for your losses?

What to Do Immediately After a Hit-and-Run Accident

After a serious accident, you may be too badly injured to take steps to protect yourself. However, if you can use your phone from your position without causing further injury, use the phone to quickly snap a photo of the fleeing car if possible, capturing the license tag and/or driver’s face if you can.

Call 911 to report the accident. Then, take photos of the accident scene, including anything relevant to the accident like an intersection, traffic signs, or signal light. When the police arrive, show them the photo you took of the hit-and-run vehicle if you were able to capture one; otherwise, describe the car and driver.

When the police go to the scene of the accident and you report the hit-and-run accident to them at the scene, they will make out an accident report so you don’t have to file a report through the online reporting tool, only use the site later to request a copy of the report.

Always go to the hospital straight from the accident scene and undergo a complete medical examination as well as treatment for obvious injuries. This can help doctors to catch and address any symptoms with delayed onset like whiplash and some head injuries.

Call your insurance company to report the hit-and-run accident.

What If the Police Do Not Come to the Accident Scene?

If you didn’t suffer serious injuries or extensive property damage, or the damage appears to be under $1,000, you don’t have to call the police to the scene under Washington law, though it’s still advisable after a hit-and-run accident which is a crime in Washington. If the police do not make a report, you must report the accident within four days. You may submit a report through the state’s online state patrol reporting website.

What Are the Options for Compensation After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Washington?

If the police are able to locate the hit-and-run driver, not only will they face criminal charges, but they are liable for your damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. If the hit-and-run offender isn’t identified or has no insurance (a common reason drivers flee the scene) you should contact an experienced car accident attorney to learn the options available to you. If you have uninsured motorist coverage you may file a claim against this policy to recover compensation. Collision insurance may also provide a payout for the property damage to your vehicle.

In less common cases, a personal lawsuit with the help of a Kent personal injury lawyer against the at-fault driver once they are located may recover compensation if they were uninsured, but often those who flee accident scenes have few assets to cover the damages.