A Skylark's Story

On the evening of February 27, 1998, I was at a friends house. Leaving at about 12:30 am, we discovered a police officer in the front yard summoned on two neighbor's complaints of crashing noises. A automobile hit my vehicle, pushing it back a car's length. The driver then took off. He was apprehended later that night only a few houses uphill from the accident. Claiming he avoided hitting a dog, he confessed to the collision. A routine background check provided additional information that he thought he had compelling reason to leave the scene:  he was wanted for felony fraud charges in Nevada. Although he was promptly arrested, the real crime only started.

Washington state law prohibits suing for punitive damages in a hit and run case. I could recover the insurance money but no more. Considering the insurance reimbursement covers only a small part (only half) of the replacement, I was out several thousand dollars. We did settle out of court. Technically, we settled in court. I bluffed the lawyer that I would rather see the man charged with some petty but related charge than settle for the amount he suggested. When the case was called before the judge, the lawyer upped the amount and I accepted it. As a result, the hit and run would not appear on the man's record. I found out later, he was transferred to Nevada and was awaiting his felony trial there.

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The damage will eventually total the car. It sat here for the weekend and the driver's wife asked us to move it since it was hurtful reminder to her about the night. The man claimed he swerved to avoid hitting a dog and would tell us about the accident in the morning.