The law in Virginia requires that motorists stop after a crash to check on each other and that they report the matter to the local police if there are injuries or property damage. Unfortunately, some people involved in collisions will not follow that mandate to report but will instead drive off, turning a standard collision into a hit-and-run crash.
According to Virginia crash data from 2019, roughly 2% of the traffic violations in Virginia involve a hit-and-run scenario. Particularly if the party who caused the crash is the one who speeds off, the driver not at fault for the wreck may not know what to do next.
Crash victims need to notify the authorities
Even if the other party has fled, anyone affected by a hit-and-run crash will need to follow the rules for reporting the wreck. They will need to contact the local police department to file a crash report. Hopefully, officers responding to the report will be able to investigate and identify the other driver. Traffic camera footage or even witness statements could help identify the driver who left the scene of the crash.
Victims may be able to hold the hit-and-run driver accountable
Once police officers identify the person who left the scene of a crash, the people affected by the collision can then take necessary steps to seek compensation. They can file an insurance claim against the liability coverage of the at-fault driver. If the driver does not have insurance or the crash caused extreme losses, then they may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
In situations where authorities cannot identify the driver at fault for the crash, motorists have fewer options. Their own insurance policies may only apply if they carry special coverage, like uninsured motorist protection. Oftentimes, police officers will not make a hit-and-run crash investigation their top priority unless there are dire consequences for the wreck or obvious and easily-available evidence. Those seeking financial compensation and closure after a hit-and-run in Virginia may find that they have an easier time pursuing justice if they bring in someone to advocate for them.
These situations are truly stressful. Thankfully, seeking legal guidance can help someone more effectively communicate with the authorities and can make it easier for someone to negotiate an insurance claim or pursue a lawsuit in the Virginia civil courts.