Friday, December 7, 2012

Just in case.....

Despite your best intentions, you may be involved in a collision at some point. Loss of time, human suffering, damage to your vehicle, and civil lawsuits resulting in great expense can be the result. Remain calm.

After a collision, the law requires that you stop immediately (minimum blockage of traffic). Present your license, vehicle registration and proof of financial responsibility to the driver (person struck) or occupants of the other vehicle or the police. Failure to do so will result in license revocation and a gross misdemeanor conviction (up to 1 year jail time and/or up to $5,00 fine)

If someone were injured/died the penalty for hit and run would be increased (class c felony, up to 5 years jail time and/or up to $10,000 fine)

Victims at scene: The driver shall also render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the collision, including transporting, or making arrangements for transporting that person for medical treatment, if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or the person requests it (RCW 46.52.020)

The usual first step would be to summon a professional aid; let them decide. Give aid to the injured within your abilities (stop profuse bleeding using pressure) Avoid moving the injured unless circumstances require it (fire, traffic etc.)

Property damage: (unattended vehicle) you must stop and try to find the owner and identify yourself before leaving the scene of the collision.

If not possible, leave a note giving the name address and phone number of the driver and owner of your vehicle as well as a statement of the circumstances. ( a third party number, attorney or work address and phone number are suggested alternatives to prevent any possible personal repercussions) as soon as possible contact the local or state police to report the collision.

When you leave your vehicle parked, if it should become a runaway vehicle and be involved in a collision resulting in damage or injury, all of the conditions mentioned concerning a collision apply to you as well. Failure to comply will result in the same penalties described earlier for a hit and run.

Try to warn traffic using reflectors (flares other than if there is a gas spill) Enlist the assistance of others to help prevent any further damage and/or to direct traffic until professional aid arrives on the scene. Turn off the ignition switches of all vehicles, create a safe zone around the vehicles and advise everyone not to smoke as there is always the danger of fire (this is especially true – gas spill)
After a collision involving property damage exceeding $700, injury or death, certain reports are required by law. A police officer at the scene will fill out a report and is required to file it with the necessary authorities (RCW 46.52.070)

When no peace officer is on the scene, the driver “shall within 96 hours” (4 days) report the information to the chief of police, county sheriff or state patrol (RCW 46.52.030). If the driver is incapable, a passenger must file (RCW 46.52.040). The chief of the Washington state patrol may request further reports (drivers/witnesses).

These reports are confidential (use by the authorities); however, they are available to all involved parties. They cannot be used as evidence in civil cases other than to prove that they wee filed. Reports are kept on file and indicate involvement in a collision, not fault; unless the driver admits fault on the report when it was submitted  (RCW 46.52.080).

At the scene, whether a police officer is present or not, exchange and make note of the following information:
·         Driver’s name and current address
·         Driver’s license number
·         Vehicle license/identification number
·         Name and address of the vehicle owner
·         Evidence of financial responsibility (insurance)
You should also make note of all damage and injuries. If you have a camer, a picture of the scene and the vehicle will help your insurance to establish both fault and extent of the damage claims.

For your potential civil liability and health, it is an excellent idea to:
·         Write down the names and addresses of any witnesses
·         Give accurate facts to the police (you will be more credible); do not admit fault nor sign documents other than the police report
·         Have a medical check-up just in case you may be injured (shock, trauma)
·         Be prepared to file supplemental reports, including informing your insurance company even though the damages may seem minor.

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