What Are My Rights as a Hit-and-Run Victim?
Hit-and-run accidents are some of the most common tragedies on the streets of Virginia. Unfortunately, many at-fault drivers flee the scene to try to avoid liability instead of sticking around to face the consequences of their actions. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run in Virginia, you may wonder who will pay for your damages if you do not know the identity of the at-fault driver. Learn your rights with help from a Richmond car accident attorney.
Virginia Fault Laws
First, understand how the state of Virginia handles car accident claims. Virginia is a hybrid fault state, meaning it offers optional no-fault insurance. It is an add-on state. As a driver in Virginia, you have the option of choosing whether you prefer fault or no-fault insurance. You must pay an additional sum to add personal injury protection to your policy. If you choose to purchase this insurance, your own insurer may cover your damages after an accident, regardless of fault. If not, you will have no choice but to hold the other party responsible.
Filing an Insurance Claim
The only mandatory car insurance in Virginia is bodily injury/death ($25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident) and property damage ($20,000). If you only purchase the bare minimum coverage in Virginia, you may not be able to seek compensation from your insurance company after a hit-and-run accident. Your insurance policy will not contain any type of coverage to repay you for damages if you do not know the name of the at-fault party.
However, if you add personal injury protection to your policy, this will cover your losses even if you do not know the identity of the at-fault driver. Your own insurer will offer compensation for your medical bills and property repairs up to your policy’s maximum. Personal injury protection is a form of uninsured/under-insured motorist insurance that can help you recover the costs of damages after a hit-and-run crash in Virginia.
A Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you do not have the proper type of insurance to cover your losses after a hit-and-run, or if an insurance company is not offering enough compensation, you may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit instead. A lawsuit could end in greater compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. If you know the identity of the at-fault driver, file a claim against him or her to demand better compensation. If the hit-and-run driver remains at large, discuss your option of naming another defendant in your lawsuit instead.
- A third-party driver
- An automaker or part manufacturer
- A negligent mechanic
- A property owner
- The city
- A construction company
- A taxi or rideshare company
- A trucking company
- An employer
Many different parties may have played a role in your auto accident. Hire an attorney to thoroughly investigate the crash and review all available evidence and information. A lawyer can conclude whether someone other than the hit-and-run driver contributed to your car accident. Then, a lawyer can assist you in bringing a personal injury lawsuit against that party (or parties) for full compensation for your losses.
Another one of your rights as a victim of a hit-and-run in Virginia is to cooperate in a criminal case against the driver. If the police determine the identity of the at-fault driver, you could help prosecutors convict the driver of a hit-and-run. This crime comes with penalties such as expensive fines and even time behind bars in Virginia. Holding the at-fault driver accountable for his or her crimes could give you peace of mind after a car accident. It could also result in the courts ordering the driver to pay you restitution. Finally, a criminal conviction could help your civil case against the driver. Contact a hit-and-run attorney after your accident for further counsel.