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Patrick Austin
Patrick Austin
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Who Pays When a Passenger Dies in a Wreck Caused by a Driver Who Cannot Be Identified?

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The death of a passenger ejected from an SUV on I-64 in James City County, Virginia (VA), is likely to raise difficult questions regarding liability and automobile insurance coverage. Even though the pain and loss will remain for the deceased man’s friends and family regardless of how the issues get resolved, finding answers to these questions is essential to securing compensation for funeral costs, lost wages and other economic difficulties.Insurance-folder

The accident that led to the man’s loss of life occurred on the morning of September 6, 2014, when the Toyota Tacoma in which the man was riding got cut off by another vehicle. The SUV’s driver swerved to avoid a collision, lost control, ran off the road, overcorrected and flipped the SUV when returning to the interstate. The passenger who died was ejected from the SUV, and he succumbed to injuries while being transported to a hospital.

Normally, a passenger’s injury- or death-related expenses can be recovered by making claims against the insurance policy held by the at-fault driver. That is likely to be impossible in this case because no good description of the vehicle that cut off the SUV appears to be available. Without such a description, tracking down the person most responsible for the fatal accident and holding him or her account probably will not happen. This, essentially, is an unsolvable hit-and-run collision even though no contact occurred.

The family of the deceased man may, however, be able to file claims against the auto policies of the person driving the SUV and their deceased relative. If one or both men opted to pay for the voluntary uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage available to people in Virginia, the crash-related costs could be compensated. In neither instance would the SUV driver or the passenger be held at-fault, but claims could be eligible for compensation.

Navigating insurance can be difficult following any crash. As the deadly rollover accident near Williamsburg shows, such problems only become more difficult to resolve when the facts of a case get more complex. Arranging a free consultation with an experienced Virginia personal injury and wrongful death lawyer once the initial shock and sadness of a sudden loss is always a good idea.

EJL