Being injured in any kind of car accident can be stressful enough, but when that accident involves a driver who sped off after the crash, victims are often left worrying about who will be liable for all the financial losses they are facing because of the accident. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents are more common than you may think. Although victims may fear that they have no legal options, a Virginia car accident attorney can often help you determine the best options for filing a personal injury claim.
Hit and Run Accident Statistics
According to national statistics compiled by the AAA Foundation, hit and run accidents are responsible for almost 750,000 crashes each year. Hit and run drivers kill more than 2,000 victims each year – a figure that has more than doubled in the past decade and one that continues to increase each year. Fleeing drivers are responsible for 20 percent of all pedestrian accident deaths. Approximately 70 percent of all victims killed each year by hit and run drivers are pedestrians and bicyclists. Although the drivers flee in these crashes, victims can still file personal injury and wrongful death claims in many of these incidents.
Why Do Drivers Flee?
Per Virginia law, as well as the law in every state in the U.S., if a driver is involved in a crash where someone has been injured, a person has been killed, or there is property damage, they are required to stop as close (and as safely) as possible to the accident site and report the accident to either the local police or state police, depending on which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction.
Yet, as the above data reveals, almost three-quarters of a million drivers flee the scene of accidents they are involved in. Fleeing the scene is a criminal offense and it should come as no surprise that many drivers who flee do so because they were involved in some kind of illegal activity when the accident occurs. Some of the more common reasons hit and run drivers fail to stop include the following:
- They are driving on a suspended, revoked, or no license at all.
- They are driving while under the influence of either alcohol and/or drugs. They flee the scene so they will not be charged with a DUI.
- They do not have automobile insurance on their vehicle. Virginia does require drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance on their vehicles.
- The driver is transporting some kind of illegal contraband in their vehicle (i.e. drugs, weapons) and fear the police will find the contraband if they stay at the accident site.
- They have outstanding warrants for criminal activity. It is standard procedure for police officers who arrive at the scene of an accident to run a background check on each driver who is involved. If a driver has any outstanding warrants, they can be arrested on the spot.
- They were driving a stolen vehicle. In these situations, the driver will usually flee the scene and quickly abandon the vehicle before police arrive.
If you have been involved in a car accident where the other driver has fled the scene, call the police right away. That police report will be a critical piece of evidence in documenting the crash occurred.
There are cases where a hit and run driver is found. The police investigating the accident, your insurance company, or your car accident attorney may be able to take the available evidence and use it to locate the responsible driver. The driver will not only be responsible for damages and losses a victim has but will also face criminal charges, as well.
Contact a Virginia Beach Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a hit and run accident, there are several legal options that may be available to you to pursue damages for losses your injuries have caused, even if the fleeing driver is not found. Call Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our dedicated Virginia car accident attorneys and find out how we can help.
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Rick Shapiro has practiced personal injury law for over 30 years in Virginia, North Carolina, and throughout the Southeastern United States. He is a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (ABA Accredited) and has litigated injury cases throughout the eastern United States, including wrongful death, trucking, faulty products, railroad, and medical negligence claims. His success in and out of the courtroom is a big reason why he was named 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” in railroad law in U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers publication (Norfolk, VA area), and he has been named a “Best Lawyer” and “Super Lawyer” by those peer-reviewed organizations for many years. Rick was also named a “Leader in the Law, Class of 2022” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly (total of 33 statewide honorees consisting of lawyers and judges across Virginia).