Whether insurance covers a hit and run depends on the policies you have. Find out more below about how insurance companies handle hit and run accidents, from the Kirkland, WA car crash lawyers at Max Meyers Law.
How can I recover compensation after an accident with a hit and run driver?
The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance
In some cases, police are able to locate the at-fault driver in a hit and run collision. In those instances, that driver’s insurance — if he has coverage — should provide you with compensation for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.
While all drivers in Washington State are required to maintain a minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance, even if located, the at-fault driver may not have had insurance or may have insufficient insurance to cover your damages.
Until or unless officers locate that driver, you will be left facing a mounting stack of bills and feeling overwhelmed. You do, however, have options to help you with your expenses, depending on what insurance you carry.
Depending on your situation, you might be able to cover your accident expenses with the following:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is an optional type of insurance coverage designed to protect drivers against collisions with uninsured motorists, and to cover any gaps between the at-fault driver’s coverage and your costs for medical bills and lost wages.
In the event of a hit and run collision, this type of insurance will provide you coverage to:
- Fix your vehicle
- Cover the cost of medical expenses
- Help with lost wages
- Compensate you for other damage, from permanent disability to pain and suffering
It is important to note that there are two different types of UM coverage — bodily injury and property damage. To have your injuries and your property damage covered, you must have both.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is another type of optional insurance that covers the costs of medical bills, lost wages, and other damages that you and your passengers may face after a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. In Washington State, most policies have caps that range from $10,000 to $35,000 per incident.
While the law in Washington State does not require motorists to carry PIP, insurance companies must offer this coverage to their policyholders, who can (but should not) opt out of this coverage in writing. PIP insurance helps you with many types of protection, including:
- Help with the costs of medical bills
- Coverage for lost wages
- Coverage for injuries suffered by passengers in your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault for the accident
Washington Crime Victims Program
The Washington Crime Victims Program offers crime victims help with a range of expenses. If the state approves your claim, you may get help with medical benefits, lost wages, travel expenses for medical treatment, or death benefits. The state can deny your claim if you did not file a police report, if your application was incomplete, or if the accident occurred outside of Washington State.
I have been involved in a hit and run accident. What should I do?
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, the shock and distress of a regular accident can be compounded by the sense of anger at the other driver fleeing the scene. It is important to remember that a driver who is fleeing the scene of an accident is likely doing so because they are concerned about facing charges for more serious issues — from driving under the influence to avoiding prosecution for another crime. Avoid the temptation to chase the driver, and instead call 911 and wait for police and medical personnel to arrive.
Once you have addressed any pressing medical issues, you should take the following steps to help with later insurance claims or legal cases, should officers be able to locate the driver:
- Take photos of the accident scene and surrounding areas, focusing on any shots that may show that the other driver did not have the right of way, for example.
- Speak with any witnesses at the scene, and get their contact information if you need to get their statements later. Ask them to give their statements to police, if they are willing.
- Get a medical examination from any emergency responders, and get a copy of the police report and responding officers’ cards or contact information.
You can get a complete list of the steps that you should take following a hit and run accident here. Also be sure to read through our checklist of compensation options after an accident with an uninsured driver.
Do not deal with a hit and run accident alone. The attorneys at Max Meyers Law can evaluate your case and help pursue the most effective options to help you get compensation for your losses. Call us at 425-399-7000 for a free case evaluation.