Hit and run drivers can cause property damage, injury, or even death before they flee the scene of an accident. If you’re the victim of a hit and run in Washington State, it’s important to know what laws the other driver violated and what you can do after a reckless driver gets away. In Washington, hit and run laws punish drivers who cause injury, death, and property damage.  

Property Damage

If someone hits an unattended vehicle or other property, they must stop and notify the owner. The law requires them to either find the owner or leave them a note with their name and address. 

Failure to notify the owner is a misdemeanor, which can result in up to 90 days in the county jail, up to $1000 in fines, or both. Property damage doesn’t typically result in the suspension of a driver’s license. 

Injury

If a driver injures another person, they must stop at the scene of the accident. They are required to provide reasonable aid, such as calling an ambulance. Additionally, they must provide their name, address, insurance information, and license plate number to the victim or the police.  

Causing injury in a hit and run is a class C felony, meaning a perpetrator could serve up to 5 years in prison, pay up to $10,000, or both. A person convicted of injuring someone in a hit and run will lose their license. 

Death

If a driver causes death, they must stop at the scene of the accident. They are required by law to help the victim, usually by calling 911. When the police arrive, they need to provide them with relevant information. 

A driver who causes death and flees the scene of the accident has committed a class B felony. If convicted, they will serve up to 10 years in prison, pay a fine of up to $20,000, or both. Additionally, they will lose their license. 

Gross Misdemeanors

Some hit and runs in Washington state are classified as gross misdemeanors, such as when a driver hits a person who is already deceased. When a hit and run driver causes only property damage by hitting a car with a passenger, this is also considered a gross misdemeanor.

Drivers in these circumstances are required to provide their name, address, insurance information, and license plate number to the victim or the police.  

Gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail, up to a $5000 fine, or both. A person convicted of a gross misdemeanor hit and run may lose their license. 

Steps to Take After a Hit and Run

After a hit and run, it’s essential to gather as much information as possible.   

  • Record everything you can remember about the incident.
  • Take pictures of the damage. 
  • Write down what you can remember about the license plate number, make, and model of the car
  • Write down what you can remember about the driver if anything. 
  • Talk to any witnesses of the accident, or anyone who may have seen what happened. 
  • If the accident happened near a store, the owners might have security cameras with footage of the accident. 

I’m the Victim of a Hit and Run. What Can I Do? 

If you or a loved one are the victim of a hit and run, you may be able to collect for your injuries. If the police have caught the perpetrator, they may bring criminal charges against them. Keep in mind that the penalties described above only apply to adults. 

After a hit and run, you can bring a civil claim against them in Washington state for property damage, personal injury, or wrongful death. Often hit and run drivers don’t have insurance. If they do, their insurance should be able to cover your injuries and any damage to your vehicle.

If the police cannot find the offender, your insurance company may still be able to cover your expenses if you purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist car insurance. 

Discuss Your Hit and Run with a Washington State Car Accident Lawyer

If you’re the victim of a hit and run in Washington state, it’s important to contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. There are ways to obtain compensation, but an aggressive legal strategy is necessary.

At Kapuza Lighty, we will make sure you know the best options that are available to you. Contact us for a free consultation today!  

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