Almost a week does not go by that we don't read about a hit and run car accident in the news. Just last week, Bellevue police recommended felony charges for a Bellevue woman who was suspected of striking a pedestrian on Coal Creek Drive and then driving off.
It seems like in the past, if a driver bumped another car in a parking lot, they would leave a note with insurance and contact information on the windshield. It appears as this is more a rarity these days.
In some cities such as Los Angeles, up to 50% of all collisions are hit and run. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal hit and run crashes have increased from 1,274 in 2009 to 1,449 in 2011. Hit and run accidents involving fatalities are on the rise. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 20% of all pedestrian fatalities involved hit and run.
According to AAA estimates, 1,5000 people are killed in every year as a result of hit and run accidents and nearly 11% of all motor vehicle accidents are hit and run.
For the victims and their families of hit and run accidents, a hit and run complicates their recovery of damages. Fortunately, in many cases, police are able to track down the hit and run driver with the help of witnesses or the hit and run driver turns themselves in.
Why do drivers leave an accident scene?
Drivers who have been caught for hit and run provide some of the following reasons for their behavior:
- The driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and did not want to face a DUI.
- The driver did not have a valid driver's license.
- The driver was uninsured.
- The driver had a criminal warrant.
- The driver was at fault and did not want to accept responsibility.
Hit and run drivers face criminal and civil penalties for hit and run
Regardless of whether the hit and run was on a highway, public road or in a parking lot, leaving the scene of an accident can result in criminal penalties. If one leaves the scene of an accident in which a person is injured, penalties can include a felony conviction, fine and even prison.
In addition to criminal penalties, victims of hit and run, can file a civil lawsuit against the hit and run driver. In some cases, damages awarded to the plaintiff will be increased to punish the defendant.
Washington state hit and run laws
Washington vehicle code RCW 46.52.020 requires that drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death of injury to another person must stop and remain at the accident scene and provide reasonable assistance for caring for the injured person until medical aid arrives. Failure to provide aid in the case of injury can result in a class B felon with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and $20,000 fine or class C felony resulting in a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Legal Assistance Washington Hit and Run Victims
This information is provided by Seattle Car Accident Lawyer blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent the victims of hit and run car accidents and the family of those who have been killed.