I Was Involved in a Hit & Run. Do I Still Have a Case?
You leave your home on a Saturday morning to go out and do some shopping. Along the way, another car crashes into your car but keeps driving and flees the scene. You’ve just become a victim of a hit and run, which is a serious violation in Virginia, but what can you do to recover damages and medical expenses for the injuries you’ve sustained?
According to the AAA Motor Club, a hit-and-run accident occurs every 60 seconds in the United States. Virginia is actually the nation’s fifth-worst state for hit-and-run accidents. In 2018, there were 4,815 such accidents reported, representing 3.7% of all vehicular crashes in the state.
Besides knowing that you’re not alone when it comes to hit-and-run accidents, what can you do to recover for your vehicle’s damages and your own injuries?
Hopefully, after you report the accident, the police may be able to track down the other driver and you can press a claim against their insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit, but if not, the answer depends on your own insurance coverage.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run incident in Alexandria, Fairfax, Woodbridge, Arlington, or Manassas areas of Virginia, contact us at Blaszkow Legal, PLLC. We have more than three decades of experience in helping the victims of car accidents pursue the compensation they deserve, and we are ready to fight for your rights as well.
What to Do If You’re Involved in a Hit and Run
If you are injured in a crash with a hit and run driver and your vehicle damaged, your first instinct may be to chase after the other driver. Avoid that temptation. This can lead to uglier scenes and subject you to further potential incidents.
Instead, try to remember, jot down, or record on your phone as many details of the other driver’s vehicle as possible — color, make, any decals, or identifying damage. If you can get the license number, that is a huge help, obviously. Even having a brief physical description of the driver can help in an investigation.
Pull over to the side of the road and call the police, which you are obligated to do anyway under Virginia law. They should arrive and conduct an investigation. Any information you have will be of immense help to them. If there were any witnesses to what happened, get their statements and contact information. The police will obviously question them as well if they’re still around when they arrive.
When you get back home, contact your insurance company and also a car accident attorney to help you with your case.
Recovery Under Your Insurance Policy
The basic auto insurance requirements under Virginia law cover only injuries and damages that you cause as the driver of your own vehicle. In 2022, each driver in Virginia must carry at least $30,000 bodily injury protection for one person injured by your vehicle and $60,000 for all persons injured. In addition, you must carry $20,000 in property damage coverage.
Note that these basic insurance requirements cover only those you injure or whose property you damage. Your own vehicle and you yourself are not covered. To cover damage to your vehicle by another vehicle, you need to purchase optional collision coverage.
To cover injuries sustained by you or your passenger(s) in a hit and run collision, you have two options in Virginia:
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage: Automobile insurance is actually not required in Virginia, but if you obtain automobile insurance you will be required to include UM coverage in your policy. This coverage prtects youi and your passengers as a result of an accident involving an uninsured motorist, or an underinsured motorist, or a motorist who cannot be identified (i.e. a hit and run motorist)
MedPay coverage: MedPay is an optional coverage that pays for any medical bills incurred by you or your passengers regardless of who is at fault.
Penalties for a Hit and Run
Drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents often flee the scene because they are intoxicated, driving without a license or insurance, using a stolen vehicle, or facing a warrant for their arrest. Whatever the reason for their decision to flee, Virginia law doesn’t look kindly on the act.
Depending on the extent of damages and/or injuries they inflict, they can receive up to 10 years in prison. If their actions result in only $250 or more in property damage with no injuries, they can still face a year in jail. Passengers who help them cover up the accident are also liable and can earn up to five years of imprisonment.
Blaszkow Legal is Ready to Help
If you’ve been injured and your vehicle damaged in a hit and run, reach out immediately for legal advice.
Blaszkow Legal can help you assess the situation and pursue your options. The team can deal with your insurance company and their claims adjusters as well. Even if you do have UM or other coverage, your insurance company may try to low-ball or even deny your claim. Blaszkow Legal, PLLC can stand up to them in negotiations.
If the police do locate the other driver, the firm can file a personal injury lawsuit to help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries and suffering.
Blaszkow Legal, PLLC represents clients in Alexandria, Virginia, and also in Fairfax, Woodbridge, Arlington, Manassas, and elsewhere.