Driving recklessly in Washington is a criminal offense. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine along with license suspension and vehicle impoundment. However, when a reckless driver causes an accident that results in injuries and vehicular damages, the consequences can be even more severe.
Reckless driving in Washington
The Revised Code of Washington Section 46.61.500 defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle in a manner that disregards the safety of others and could result in injury or death. This includes, but is not limited to, speeding, tailgating, running stop signs or red lights, and weaving in and out of traffic.
Steps to take when injured
While still on the scene, get the contact and insurance information from the driver who hit you. If you can, photograph the accident scene, damages to both vehicles and injuries you have sustained. You should also speak to any witnesses and obtain their names and contact information. Also, the law requires people injured in motor vehicle accidents to call the police immediately to file a report.
Once you have left the accident scene, see a doctor right away even if you don’t feel injured. It’s important to document all your injuries, no matter how minor they may seem, to receive proper medical treatment and build a solid personal injury case.
Filing a claim
You can take two paths to receive the compensation you need to cover your injuries. One is through your insurance, and the other is a lawsuit against the reckless driver. When dealing with an insurance company, it is important to have an accurate estimate of your injuries and car damages to obtain the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
Since insurance companies only compensate you to your policy limit, if the accident affected you immensely – for instance, rendering you unable to work or disabled – filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver may be your best bet. You will need to prove the other party’s negligence and how his or her behavior directly or indirectly caused your injuries.
Besides compensation, a lawsuit can also help you get punitive damages, which are intended to punish the at-fault driver and discourage others from driving recklessly. However, the trajectory your case will take will greatly depend on the evidence you can gather to prove your point.