Leaving the Scene of an Accident – Penalties & Tips

Leaving scene of accident penalties


If someone leaves the scene of an accident, it commonly referred to as a hit and run. If you are involved in an accident, you are required by law to remain at the scene of the accident to exchange information with the other driver.

If someone does not stay at the scene of an accident that caused property damage, injuries, or even death, then they are subject to criminal charges as well as civil liability.

If the person who leaves the scene of the accident is never found, then you will likely have to make an insurance claim on your own car insurance to be compensated for any injuries or damage sustained in the accident. If you are the victim of a hit and run accident, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Duties of a Driver Under Washington Law

If you are involved in a car accident in the state of Washington, you have a number of duties under state law. You are first required to stop immediately at the scene or as close to the scene of the accident as possible. You are also required to provide:

  • Your name,
  • Your address,
  • Your insurance company information,
  • Your insurance policy number,
  • Your license plate number, as well as
  • Your driver’s license number

You are also required to render reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the accident, including calling for help. If the crash involved a parked vehicle, then you are required to locate and notify the owner of the vehicle if possible. If you are not able to locate the owner, then you are required to leave a note with your information.

If you fail to stop at the scene of an accident, then it can result in criminal charges that range from misdemeanor to felony charges against you. If you are the victim of a hit and run, however, it is important to be aware of what important steps you may need to take in order to preserve a claim.

What to Do After the Other Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

If you are involved in a car accident and the other driver leaves the scene of the accident, it is important to take specific proactive steps in order to best help your chances in recovering compensation.

If you fail to take the following steps, you can greatly limit your ability to present a claim for damages. It is important to take the following steps if you’re involved in an accident and the other driver leaves the scene:

1. Stay calm and gather as much information as possible – take lots of photos of your car and the accident scene. Make sure to document any damage, talk to any possible witnesses and get their contact information.
2. Call the police right away and file a report.
3. Contact your insurance company to report the incident.
4. Seek medical attention immediately even if you don’t have visible injuries.
5. Get an inspection done on your vehicle to assess damage.
6. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the best solution for your case.

It is important to note that if you’re inside your vehicle, do not follow the other driver.

What About Insurance Coverage?

The state of Washington requires drivers to carry minimum insurance coverage but does not require drivers to carry uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is coverage that you buy on your own insurance policy that is meant to cover your expenses if you are involved in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance coverage or doesn’t have enough to cover your claim. While state law does not require this coverage, it does require that any rejection of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage must be made in writing by the insured to the insurance company.

If the insurance company cannot produce a written coverage rejection, then the state can force the insurer to provide retroactive coverage equal to the limits of the policy.

What is a Phantom Vehicle?

A “phantom vehicle” is one that insurance companies like to use that describes any unidentified vehicles that are involved in an accident.

This can be a vehicle that makes contact with other vehicles in an accident or could be a vehicle that simply causes an accident and never makes contact or suffers any damage or injury.

If the victim of a hit and run can prove that a phantom vehicle caused the accident in question, then they may be covered under their uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage of their car insurance policy. To best understand your options for a claim involving a driver leaving the scene of an accident, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney.

Sofia’s No Fee Guarantee

Attorney Sofia K. Miguel guarantees that you will never write a check to our office under Sofia’s “no fee guarantee.” Consultations are free and if your case is selected, then Sofia will also cover all your court costs during your case.

Sofia only gets paid when you do. Her services will cost you nothing out of pocket; simple as that. Let Sofia’s nearly twenty years of experience in helping people recover for their personal injuries get to work for you now.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as the victim of a hit and run near Seattle, Puyallup or Tacoma, WA, please contact attorney Sofia Miguel as she is standing by to answer your questions and help you fight to get the money you deserve. Call us at 253-200-4471, come visit our office right here in Puyallup at 702 S. Hill Park Dr. #207, or contact us online anytime. We are here for you.

Personal Injury Attorney Puyallup

Sofia K. Miguel, Attorney

Sofia K. Miguel has extensive litigation experience; she has tried or arbitrated hundreds of cases throughout Western Washington. She graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2000 and has 17 years’ experience representing injured people. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and an EAGLE member of the Washington State Association for Justice.

Send Us an Email

Preferred Time

1 + 1 =

Related Posts…