Anyone involved in a Virginia car accident is required by law to remain at the scene to offer assistance to injured victims and provide contact information to the police. While that’s a common-sense requirement, there are thousands of incidents per year in Virginia where at-fault drivers leave before law enforcement arrives. For the best shot at financial recovery when you are injured in a crash, you need to know what to do—and what not to do—after a hit and run.
Why Drivers Flee the Scene and What to Do After a Virginia Hit and Run
Even though it is specifically against the law, there are numerous reasons a driver may flee the scene anyway after causing a crash. In some cases, the negligent party fears the police will discover other criminal acts, such as drunk driving or possession of illicit drugs.
Hit and run drivers may also try to avoid interacting with law enforcement if they lack the basic required liability insurance, were driving without a license, or have a warrant for their arrest over some other offense. In other instances, drivers who cause an accident just simply panic and try to escape responsibility for the collision.
Regardless of why the driver fled, what you need to do next remains the same after the car accident. If you aren’t immediately taken to the ER due to the severity of your injuries, always take these steps:
- Do not attempt to apprehend the fleeing driver. There is too much risk of putting yourself in serious danger of further bodily harm.
- Call the police to have them investigate the hit and run.
- Gather as much evidence as possible to protect your legal right to recovery. Take pictures of the scene and the damage to your vehicle, and try to get a snapshot of the other vehicle’s license plate as it flees.
- If there were any witnesses to the crash, get their contact info so your attorney can speak with them later.
- See a doctor immediately after the accident to begin documenting the extent of your injuries for any potential court case or insurance settlement.
- Report the incident to your insurance company, but do not agree to a recorded statement or provide any details beyond the basic information of when and where the accident occurred.
- Call a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience in Virginia traffic laws. Let your legal representative handle further communication with the insurance company.
- Avoid discussing the accident on social media to prevent an insurance adjuster from using your posts against you.
- Keep records of any costs from medical treatments or vehicle repairs.
Recovering Damages After a Hit and Run Crash in Virginia
Hit and run accidents, particularly involving drunk drivers, come with a high risk of serious injuries such as broken bones or traumatic brain injury. Costs for medical treatment after a hit and run can be astronomical, and that situation is made worse if you can’t return to work.
Between the police and your own attorney’s investigation, it's possible the driver will be located and can be held financially responsible. If the driver is found, your attorney can provide evidence to prove the at-fault party failed to uphold their basic duty of care and caused your injury. If the hit and run driver is never located, however, compensation will most likely have to come through your own insurance.
Your policy may include an uninsured motorist clause that allows you to recover damages even if you don’t know the identity of the other driver. This complicates the recovery process and is one of the main reasons you need a lawyer to assist after any hit and run injury. An experienced attorney can negotiate with the insurance adjuster to make sure all of your economic and non-economic costs are included in the settlement.