Navigating a Hit-and-Run Car Accident in Virginia
Being the victim of a hit and run car accident can be a scary and stressful experience. According to the CDC, over 5,800 people are killed annually across the United States in hit and run crashes. Unfortunately, the driver responsible flees the scene without stopping to help the victim or exchange insurance information. This leaves the victim not only injured but also confused about next steps. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a hit and run in Virginia, here is what you need to know about dealing with the aftermath.
Gather Information at the Scene
If you are able to do so safely, the first thing to do after a hit and run accident is gather as much information as possible about the fleeing vehicle. Look around for any broken parts that may have fallen off during the crash, like a side mirror or tail light lens. Also check for any fluids leaking from the vehicle like oil, gas, or antifreeze. Anything left behind could help identify the make and model of the car that hit you.
Try to get the license plate number if possible. Having at least a partial plate can go a long way in tracking down the at-fault driver later. Make a note of the color, style, and any identifying features of the car like bumper stickers or damage. If there were any witnesses, get their names and contact information too. All of these details will help when filing the police report and car accident insurance claim.
Seek Any Necessary Medical Attention
Seeking prompt medical care should be the next priority, even if you do not think you were seriously injured. The adrenaline rush after an accident can mask symptoms of shock, internal bleeding, fractures, or head trauma. Having your injuries checked and documented will facilitate proper recovery. Plus the medical records can support an injury claim later on.
Head to the emergency room or call 911 for an ambulance if you suffered any loss of consciousness, severe bleeding, or broken bones. For less serious injuries, visit an urgent care clinic or your primary doctor. Describe all your symptoms and be sure they are included in your medical file. Follow any recommendations for imaging tests or specialist referrals.
File a Police Report
You’ll need to file an official report with the police after a hit and run accident in Virginia. This provides an official record of the crash for insurance purposes. Try to file it as soon as possible while the details are still fresh in your mind.
When speaking with the officer, give a complete account of what happened. Provide any information gathered about the fleeing driver and their vehicle. Having a witness there to corroborate can help too. Ask for a copy of the police report, which you will need later when making your insurance claim.
If the driver is eventually identified, the police report can be used to show fault and hold them responsible. Virginia uses a pure contributory negligence system, meaning a victim cannot recover damages if they are even 1% at fault for the accident. So the report should clearly show the other driver hit you and fled the scene.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Contact your auto insurance provider about the hit and run accident as soon as you can. Provide them with your account of what happened, a copy of the police report, your medical records related to the accident, and any repair estimates you have for your vehicle.
Under the uninsured motorist portion of your policy, you can make a claim for your damages just as if the at-fault driver had insurance. This covers your bodily injury expenses, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages up to your policy limits.
An insurance adjuster will investigate the claim, which may include visiting the accident scene, looking at your car, or even hiring detectives to try to identify the hit and run driver. Cooperate fully with the process to help resolve your claim promptly and fairly.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
Getting legal help from an experienced personal injury lawyer is highly recommended after a hit and run accident. They can deal with the insurance companies for you while you focus on recovering from your injuries. A car accident attorney knows how to build the strongest case using evidence like medical records, accident reconstruction experts, and witnesses.
If the at-fault driver is eventually found, a lawyer can pursue compensation through their insurance policy. They may also be able to access other sources like uninsured motorist coverage. For severe injuries, a lawsuit may be warranted to recover full damages.
Do not wait to call a personal injury law firm after being the victim of a hit and run in Virginia. The sooner you have legal guidance, the better protected your rights will be throughout the claims process. Many firms offer free consultations and only get paid if they win your case.
Next Steps After a Hit and Run
Being left at the scene after an accident can leave you feeling helpless, especially with injuries. But there are proactive steps you can take to protect yourself:
Gather details like descriptions of the vehicle, license plate, and witnesses
Get medical treatment for any injuries suffered
File a police report as soon as possible
Notify your insurance provider to make an uninsured motorist claim
Speak to a personal injury attorney about your legal options
With the right evidence and support, you can successfully recover compensation after a hit and run crash in Virginia. Do not hesitate to get professional car accident lawyer in Virginia to help in dealing with this difficult situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What should I do at the scene of a hit and run accident?
Try to safely gather as much information as possible that could identify the fleeing vehicle, like the license plate number, make/model, color, unique features, and direction it drove off. Also get contact details for any witnesses. Seek medical care even for minor injuries and file a police report right away.
2. Can I still make an insurance claim without knowing who hit me?
Yes, you can make a claim under the uninsured motorist portion of your auto policy. The insurance company will investigate the hit and run just as they would for an insured driver. Your medical costs, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and other damages will be covered up to your policy limits.
3. What if injuries from the hit and run accident turn out to be serious later on?
Even delayed injuries related to the crash would still be covered under your uninsured motorist insurance. Be sure to properly document symptoms as they appear and follow your doctor’s ongoing treatment recommendations. An experienced personal injury attorney can help recover full compensation for any long-term effects.
4. What if the hit and run driver is identified later?
If the at-fault driver is found after fleeing the accident, their liability insurance can then be pursued for damages. A personal injury lawyer can claim against the policy and even file a lawsuit if necessary to recover compensation for severe injuries.
5. How can I prove the other driver was at fault since they fled the scene?
The best way to establish fault is through independent eyewitness accounts and physical evidence from the scene. Details in the police report, camera footage, debris left behind, visible injuries or damage, and expert accident reconstruction can also demonstrate the other driver’s responsibility.
Choosing the Best Car Accident Attorney
Altizer Law has guided clients through their personal injury cases with a personalized touch. We are here to help you and treat every client with the utmost care and empathy. Call our team of experienced attorneys today at 540.345.2000.