Magnuson Lowell Blog
Each week we post a blog about relevant legal issues. Glance through our various topics to learn more about a particular legal situation.
The victim of a Washington hit-and-run can thank his lucky stars he is alive. The 55-year-old pedestrian, of Seattle, suffered serious injuries when he was hit by a vehicle in White Center around 1:45 a.m.; the car drove off without stopping. According to King5 news, the injuries are not life-threatening.
Witnesses say the man flew 30 feet through the air after getting hit. The King County Sheriff's Department, however, told King5 news it was not clear if the crash's impact knocked him that far or if the car carried him a distance before he rolled off its hood.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, almost 50 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents occur between 6:00 p.m. and midnight. Even if a pedestrian sees headlights approaching, at that point it is often too late; eight of ten drivers who struck people at night did not see them, according to the NHTSA.
Studies show drivers traveling at 60 mph have less than one second of reaction time to avoid pedestrians wearing dark-colored clothing at night. Therefore, NHTSA recommends that at night, pedestrians wear reflective materials, which reflect light back instead of absorbing it. Wearing white or light-colored clothing at night may not be sufficient, since pedestrians in white are not visible until well within 200 feet - and drivers traveling at 60 mph need over 260 feet to stop safely, according to the NHTSA.
In Washington, it is illegal to leave the scene of auto accidents resulting in injury, death or property damage. Penalties vary based on the seriousness of the harm caused by the hit-and-run, from gross misdemeanors for failing to stop after striking the body of a deceased person to class B felonies for failing to stop after an accident resulting in another person's death.
In addition, drivers must give the injured person, driver or an occupant of the other car their name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number and vehicle license number. They also must show their driver's license and render reasonable assistance to any injured person. In certain circumstances, "reasonable assistance" means helping the person get medical treatment.
Victims of hit-and-runs often need help determining who was at fault. Contacting a skilled personal injury attorney is essential in gathering facts about the accident and pursuing legal claims against whoever may be responsible.