Car accidents are always distressing experiences, but hit and run accidents can be especially upsetting. You might be understandably angry at the driver who did not have the decency to remain at the scene, and fear that you will be stuck with the costs.
If you were the victim of a hit and run car accident in Kirkland, you might not have to absorb the costs of all of your losses. If the police find the driver, you could bring a personal injury lawsuit to recover your damages. Even if the driver gets away, a local vehicle accident attorney could help you get reimbursement from your insurance company and work to find other parties liable for the accident.
File an Insurance Claim for Quick Reimbursement
Washington follows the traditional “at-fault” system for car accidents, meaning that the person who caused the accident is responsible for the harm they caused others. If the at-fault driver leaves the scene and police do not find them, an accident victim might have to file a claim under their own insurance policy.
All insurers in the state must offer optional coverage that pays when the at-fault driver is uninsured or their policy limits are insufficient to cover the victims’ losses. If a Kirkland hit and run car accident victim has uninsured motorist coverage, it will pay their losses up to their policy limits. Similarly, if the victim has optional personal injury protection (PIP), the victim could rely on that coverage.
If the hit and run victim was not insured or has only the required vehicle insurance coverage without optional benefits, an injury lawyer could look to other sources of coverage to provide compensation. Depending on the circumstances, the victim could seek damages from other parties. They also might file a claim with the state’s crime victims’ fund. An experienced lawyer could further explain these details and how they might apply to a specific case.
Claiming Damages From the Driver
In many situations, police find the driver responsible for a hit and run. Once the driver is identified, anyone injured because of their actions could bring a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages. If the driver has insurance, their policy will pay the victim’s damages up to coverage limits. If the driver lacks sufficient coverage to pay all a victim’s damages, the driver is personally liable.
The injured person must prove that the hit and run driver was negligent. The fact that the driver left the scene is evidence of negligence, but the injured person must show that the driver’s actions caused or contributed to their losses. If the injured person and their attorney can make that connection, the driver can be held liable for all the victim’s losses, including:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Future medical treatment related to the injury
- Household services
- Lost wages
- Value of sick time and other fringe benefits the victim used during their recovery
- Diminished future earning capability
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life
If the driver who fled the scene has insurance coverage, the insurance company will typically negotiate a settlement with the injured person rather than try to defend the driver in court. A Kirkland lawyer could pursue a settlement that provides adequate compensation for those injured in hit and run car accidents.
Do Not Wait to Take Legal Action
Accident victims benefit from seeking legal representation as quickly as possible. If the driver who caused the injury is unidentified, a legal professional could investigate other possible sources of coverage to reimburse the injured person’s expenses in the short term.
Although Washington Revised Statutes §4.16.080 allows injured people three years to file a lawsuit seeking damages, it is best to get in touch with a Kirkland attorney as soon as possible after a hit and run accident. Collecting evidence while it is fresh and speaking to witnesses when their memories are clear helps build a stronger case.
Work With an Attorney After a Hit and Run Car Accident in Kirkland
Victims of hit and run car accidents in Kirkland have avenues to seek the help and compensation they deserve. Even if the police do not catch the driver right away, an experienced personal injury attorney could seek out other possible sources of coverage to reimburse your losses. Give us a call today to get started.