Every personal injury case is different; this is an example of a recent hit-and-run crash handled by Coluccio Law. If you have questions about a specific incident, we recommend you talk to a lawyer.
A little over one year ago, Bette was horribly injured in a hit-and-run crash on a Puget Sound island.
In the weeks after the crash, as her medical bills piled up, a relative of Bette’s contacted Coluccio Law for a free consultation. Bette chose us to represent her, and we are proud to say that we recently successfully wrapped up her case.
Here’s what happened to Bette—and what we can learn about hit-and-run crashes from it.
An example of a hit-and-run crash
It was very early on a warm July morning. Bette was driving over a state route bridge, not far from her home, on her way to work, when an a car coming from the opposite direction swerved into her lane.
There was no where for her to go, and no way to avoid the oncoming car.
Then, a third car coming upon the crash scene didn’t see the blocking collision. That driver struck Bette’s vehicle a second time.
While Bette was unconscious in her car, the driver of the first car got out of the car and fled the scene on foot.
When paramedics arrived, they found that Bette had serious injuries, including a broken leg and a broken arm.
With the help of witnesses, police were able to track down the other driver within hours of the collision. The car he had abandoned at the scene had been previously registered to him.
However, his vehicle registration had expired, and he did not have car insurance.
In the State of Washington, drivers are required to carry a minimum insurance policy of 25/50: $25,000 coverage per person, $50,000 per collision.
What happens when the driver is uninsured?
In Bette’s case, the driver who caused the crash was uninsured.
The driver of the third car, who also struck Bette’s car, had the minimum amount of car insurance: $25,000.
Bette’s injuries were significant. At the time we concluded her personal injury case, her medical bills totaled nearly $375,000.
Her medical bills alone exceeded the other driver’s insurance coverage by nearly $350,000.
Fortunately, Bette also had a car insurance policy that covered her in this situation. Uninsured Motorist / Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) pays for damages and injuries if the driver who caused the collision:
- does not have car insurance, or
- does not have enough insurance to pay for all of the damage.
UM/UIM insurance is optional in Washington State. Here’s how to check your own car insurance policy to see if you have it.
In this case, we needed to access Bette’s own insurance policy for both collisions: the hit-and-run crash with the uninsured driver, and then the collision with the under-insured driver.
Washington State law says that drivers are required to have liability car insurance. They are required to register their vehicles with the state. But violating these laws usually results in citations and relatively minor fines.
A hit-and-run crash, however, can have serious legal consequences.
Hit-and-run law in Washington State
When you drive a car, you take on the duties and legal responsibilities for your actions and your vehicle.
The law in Washington State says that if a “driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury to or death of any person … shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident …”
If a driver has to move the vehicle, they are supposed to stay as close as possible, and “in every event remain at, the scene of such accident.”
The law, RCW