Car accidents are stressful, but when the other driver leaves the scene of the accident, it can complicate your case. It’s easy to wonder if you’ll ever see financial recovery for your injuries and losses when the other driver leaves the scene.
In 2020 alone, Virginia had hundreds of hit and run accidents involving many traffic violations like speeding and impaired driving. While car accidents can seem scary or overwhelming, there is never any excuse to leave the scene of an accident.
After a hit-and-run accident, you may be able to sue. An experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer can provide valuable legal assistance.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Is Against the Law
Not only is leaving the scene of an accident morally wrong, but it is also against the law. Under Virginia law, drivers and passengers involved in car accidents involving injury, death, or damage to vehicles or other property cannot leave the accident scene.
If a driver experiences a collision, there is a legal requirement to:
- Provide reasonable assistance to injured parties
- Report their name, home address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to law enforcement
- Give their information to the other individual(s) involved if they can understand and retain the information.
Everyone involved in a car accident must remain on the scene and perform these duties under the law. Failing to do so can result in severe consequences.
Potential Damages for Hit and Run Accidents
If you suffer injuries in a hit-and-run accident, you may be able to pursue financial recovery. Economic and non-economic damages serve to compensate you for your losses.
Damages for hit and run accidents can include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
To seek compensation, your hit-and-run lawyer will review the details of your situation to assign a value to your case. Once your attorney calculates your damages, they will fight to pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.
Filing a Car Insurance Claim
After a car accident, you may be able to receive compensation from the other party’s insurance, even if it was a hit-and-run accident.
Virginia requires minimum mandatory car insurance that must include:
- $25,000: bodily injury coverage required per person
- $50,000: bodily injury coverage required per accident
- $20,000: property damage coverage
If you can later identify the responsible driver, getting compensation from their insurance is one potential route.
Personal Injury Lawsuit for Hit and Run Accidents
Under certain circumstances, you can file a personal injury lawsuit for your hit and run accident. In many cases, if the other driver’s insurance policy limits are not enough to cover your damages after your accident, you can file a lawsuit to recover the additional compensation you need.
A hit-and-run attorney can create the ideal legal action plan for your case. Whether your case requires filing a personal injury lawsuit—or you can receive financial recovery without one—you can trust your lawyer to get the compensation you need.
Seeking Compensation Without an Identified Driver
If you cannot identify the driver responsible for your accident, you may still receive compensation through your insurance if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Unlike the minimum car insurance coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not mandatory in Virginia. However, if you do have this type of protection, it can help you get compensation through your insurer.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects you should you experience a car accident with a driver that does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance. Uninsured/underinsured coverage can also help you in cases of hit and run accidents because you cannot seek compensation from anyone else’s car insurance.
Should you have this protection, your insurer can pay up to your policy limits for your injuries and other losses.
Criminal Charges for Hit and Run Accidents in Virginia
Individuals fleeing an accident scene are not only subject to a civil lawsuit but may also face criminal penalties for their wrongdoing.
Under the law in Virginia, a driver convicted of leaving the scene of an accident faces:
- Conviction of a Class 5 felony if the accident results in injury or death of any individual or more than $1,000 in property damage
- Conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor if the accident results in property damage of $1,000 or less
Penalties for hit and run charges include costly fines and, in some cases, jail time.
Time Limit to File a Hit and Run Lawsuit in Virginia
If you need to file a lawsuit for your hit and run accident, you’ll have limited time to do so.
The statute of limitations for hit and run accidents in Virginia is two years from the date of the accident.
If you fail to file your claim within the allotted time, you lose your right to pursue compensation for your injuries and damages. While you can still file a lawsuit after two years, a judge will more than likely dismiss your case entirely upon noticing the expiration of time.
Therefore, you must discuss your case with a hit-and-run lawyer as soon as possible. A hit-and-run attorney ensures your case is handled promptly and avoids missing significant deadlines.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Hit and Run Case?
Hit and run cases are unlike regular car accident cases. In many cases, you’ll need to use evidence and resources to track down the responsible driver. Hit and run cases are unique and pose many challenges.
Fortunately, a hit-and-run lawyer has the knowledge, experience, and skills to handle every aspect of your case, working diligently toward the most favorable outcome. Having a hit-and-run attorney on your side can yield better results than working on your claim independently.
Discuss Your Case with a Hit-and-Run Attorney in Virginia
If you’ve sustained injuries in a hit-and-run accident, do not hesitate to discuss your case with a hit-and-run lawyer as soon as possible.
Your attorney can gather important information regarding your accident to provide a legal plan of action that best suits your needs and deserved outcome. Having a qualified lawyer on your side can give you much peace of mind.