Why You Should Never Leave the Scene of a Car Accident in the Greater Seattle Area

Car accidents are an unfortunate reality for many people. Even the most cautious drivers may find themselves involved in a collision at some point. One momentary lapse in focus behind the wheel can lead to significant (and costly) consequences. While many car accident injuries do not cause permanent damage, they often require medical treatment, physical therapy, and other expensive and time-consuming treatments. As you focus on your physical recovery, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the lost wages, medical bills, and other costs that seem to be accumulating quickly. Fortunately, Washington State allows injured parties to seek compensation to help them cover the costs stemming from an auto collision. Although the law does not require you to enlist legal representation when filing an auto accident claim, doing so is highly recommended. This post will highlight some essential steps to take at the scene of the collision to ensure that you have all the information necessary to move forward with an injury claim. We will also explore why you should always remain at the scene to protect yourself from significant risks and other liabilities.

Steps to Take at the Scene of a Car Accident in Seattle

The aftermath of a car collision tends to be chaotic and confusing. It can be difficult to know what steps to take, especially if you have suffered an injury. Below are some key actions to take immediately following an accident to keep all parties as safe as possible.

Assessing Injuries and Seeking Medical Attention

First, evaluate yourself and others at the scene for any injuries. Have someone call for an ambulance if anyone requires immediate medical care. Even if you don’t believe your injuries are severe enough to warrant a hospital visit, be sure to schedule an appointment with a doctor within the next day or two. Not only will visiting a physician help you identify any harder-to-detect injuries or conditions (like concussions or internal bleeding, both of which do not always exhibit apparent symptoms), but your visit will establish medical records detailing the nature and extent of your injuries. When you start to build your auto accident claim, you can use these medical records to demonstrate and quantify the physical toll the incident took on your health.

Notify Local Law Enforcement

Auto collisions involving physical injuries should be reported to local law enforcement (RCW 46.52.030). The responding officer will arrive at the scene to assess the damage, take statements from witnesses and the involved parties, and compile a police report. The police report serves as an objective account of the factors leading up to, contributing to, and resulting from the collision. You can request a copy of the police report to include with your claim, using the information to corroborate your version of the events and strengthen your request for compensation. All police reports can be requested through the Washington State Patrol. Get a copy of yours here: WSP Collision Report Request

Remain at the Scene

Some drivers involved in minor collisions may not think to stop and stay at the scene. Unfortunately, leaving the scene of an accident can lead to serious consequences, including potential criminal liability. Failing to stop and exchange information with the other parties involved in the accident may lead to hit-and-run charges, so be sure to provide all relevant details to the other driver, the responding officer, and any other authorities that arrive at the scene.

Driver Duties According to Washington State Laws

Laws in Washington establish several duties that drivers must observe when behind the wheel. RCW 46.52.020 compels drivers involved in an accident that results in injuries to stop their vehicles immediately at the scene. They must remain at the scene until they have completed the following tasks:

  1. Provided their name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicle license number to the other party

  2. Rendered “reasonable assistance” to the other parties (i.e., calling for an ambulance or transporting the injured party to a hospital or physician for care)

Failure to perform these duties may lead to criminal penalties. You could face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the accident and the specific details of the event. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and even frightened in the moments during and after a car accident. Still, it’s essential to remain as calm as possible as you wait for the authorities to arrive and provide further information and guidance.

What to Do After an Auto Collision

Auto accidents are often confusing and chaotic. However, there are steps you can take at the scene to maximize your chances of obtaining a fair settlement. For example, contacting local law enforcement and exchanging information with the other driver are good places to start. If you suffered any injuries, be sure to visit the doctor as soon as possible. Even if you do not believe your injuries are severe enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, visiting a doctor within a few days of the accident establishes the paperwork you will need to strengthen your claim.

Contact a Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Today

As you navigate through the moments, days, and weeks after the auto accident, try to remember that acting with compassion is not the same as admitting fault. You can still fulfill your driver duties without feeling obligated to take the blame for the accident. Working with a trusted and understanding Seattle car accident lawyer is the best way to ensure that you can make informed decisions with clarity and confidence. Your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and employ effective strategies to maximize your settlement offer as you focus on what matters most—your recovery.

If you’ve suffered an auto accident injury in the Seattle area, the dedicated legal team at Scott & Scott, PLLC, is here to help you secure the compensation you need to support your recovery. Call our office today at (206) 622-2200 to speak with an experienced and caring personal injury attorney.

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