Hit-and-Run Accidents in Virginia
The Smith Law Center helps people hurt by hit-and-run drivers on the highways of Virginia or elsewhere every year. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident usually face criminal charges. These drivers are not always easily tracked down, compounding the difficulties of accident victims who make an insurance claim.
Drivers should never leave the scene of an accident. They can face criminal charges even in property-damage-only wrecks. You should always wait for a police officer to arrive. Minor fender benders may not require a police investigation. However, you should exchange insurance information with the other driver before leaving the scene.
What Happens if a Driver Hits and Damages an Unoccupied Car in Virginia?
A Virginia driver who hits and damages an unoccupied vehicle must make a reasonable effort to find the driver or contact the driver about the accident. Under Virginia law, the driver should leave a note providing identification details at the scene of the accident and report the accident to the police within 24 hours.
Our attorneys are often asked questions about hit-and-run accidents. They include:
Can I Bring a Lawsuit After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Hampton?
If you were hit by a driver who left the wreck scene in Hampton, Newport News, or elsewhere in Virginia, you can sue the hit-and-run driver.
Typically, after an accident, a police officer will attend and talk to the drivers and other parties. The investigating officer gives each driver an exchange sheet that provides important details including the name, address, and auto insurance details of the other driver.
A driver who flees the scene causes added complications. Obviously, the accident victim will not have the details of the other driver to make an insurance claim for injuries or property damage against his or her policy. In many hit-and-run cases, the accident victim eventually gets these details.
What Happens When a Police Officer Arrests a Hit-and-Run Driver?
When a police officer arrests a hit-and-run driver, he or she will likely be charged under Virginia code. Hit and Run or Leaving the Scene of an Accident can result in serious consequences for the driver. These range from a simple fine to a prison sentence, depending on the severity of a personal injury or the extent of property damage. You can be charged with hit-and-run even if you were not at fault for the original accident.
If the actions of a driver cause death or injury, hit-and-run is a felony offense. During the prosecution, the available information relating to the at-fault driver may be limited. However, an injury lawyer often uses the charge to establish the identity of the culpable driver.
Even when a driver is charged with hit-and-run, the offense may be hard to prove. Accidents are stressful occasions. They often occur unexpectedly in the dark. You may not have enough information to identify the driver who caused the crash and fled the scene. A hit-and-run conviction can only be used in a car accident lawsuit when the driver who left the scene pleads guilty.
In other cases, police lack sufficient evidence to charge a suspect with hit-and-run. You may still be able to file a lawsuit against this driver. The burden of proof, in other words the standard you need to prove in the case, is lower in a civil case than in a criminal prosecution.
What Happens when no Charges are Brought?
If the police have a hit-and-run suspect but decline to press charges, you are likely to face an uphill battle. However, a Virginia hit-and-run injury lawyer can still discover evidence that’s crucial to your case. The fact a driver left the scene means he or she likely had something to hide. An attorney will seek to find incriminating evidence about the hit-and-run driver. Often the hit-and-run driver can be sued when in the absence of a criminal conviction.
What Happens When a Hit-and-Run Driver Cannot be Tracked Down?
Although many hit-and-run drivers are tracked down by the police, on occasions, the at-fault motorist is never found. This causes issues for victims who have no party to sue for their injuries.
Fortunately, Virginia law allows you to use uninsured motorist coverage to make a claim against your own insurance policy in these cases.
Contact an Experienced Hit and Run Injury Lawyer in Virginia
At the Smith Law Center, our experienced attorneys help many people who were injured in hit-and-run accidents every year. We file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of family members who have lost loved ones due to the reckless actions of drivers to flee the accident scene.
We realize it’s traumatic enough to be hurt in a car crash. It’s worse still when the at-fault driver flees the scene. Please contact us through our website for a free consultation.