Hit and runs are one of the worst types of accidents. Although they may not always be the most serious in terms of damages or injuries, it is basically your word against a ghost. You have no information to provide your insurance, and at best can file a police report. These types of accidents make up about 11 percent of all crashes.
What is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run is the commonplace term for what is officially “leaving the scene of an accident.” The official term is an offense, a criminal offense. Essentially a hit and run are any time a person vacates the crash site. However, that does not mean that someone who pulled off to the side of the road was running from the scene.
There are some aspects to consider in that it’s not always as plain as a person refusing to pull over after a crash. For example, if you and the other driver pulled over, but then the other driver left when you requested their information, that is also a hit and run.
Hit and Run Penalties
Both misdemeanor and felony penalties are depending on the extent of damage during the hit and run. Because both parties must pull over, there is a little argument for fault in these cases. Similar to DUIs, the criminal offense takes precedence over the fault of either party. The person who fled the scene, or left the scene refusing to provide information, must face criminal charges.
Additionally, passengers can also face charges. If a passenger is over 16, they can be liable for hit and run penalties also.
A passenger and driver may face two different charges depending on the situation.
Misdemeanor for Leaving the scene of an Accident applies when:
- The other vehicle had a person present to take the information.
- Property damages exceeded $250 of an unattended vehicle (class 1 misdemeanor)
- Damage under $250 of an unattended vehicle (class 4 misdemeanor)
Felony as part of Leaving the Scene of an Accident applies when:
- The accident resulted in injury or death.
Drivers can face more severe felony charges up to a class 5 felony. Additionally, drivers can face a felony charge when property damage to an unattended vehicle exceeds $1,000. If you have injuries because of a hit and run accident, the other driver is likely facing felony charges.
So, what do these charges mean? A felony conviction for a hit and run that involved injuries can land a driver in jail for up to 10 years and fines of up to $2,5000. A passenger involved in the hit and run may face up to five years in jail.
Car Crash Lawyers Offer Insight into Virginia Hit and Run Laws
When navigating Virginias hit and run laws, it’s easy to see that they are rather clear-cut. You cannot leave the scene of a crash without providing your insurance, driver’s license, and vehicle’s information. The basic information exchange that takes place after every accident is vital in determining if your wreck was a hit and run or not.
There are many times when someone will take off after a crash because they felt that they were at fault. There may be other legal circumstances at play as well, such as drug use. Hit and runs often intercede with other areas of the law, and it can be difficult to keep track of which legal aspects are involved in your case.
The basic laws to keep in mind after an accident are:
- Drivers involved in an auto accident must stop their vehicle as close to the crash site as possible while doing so safely, and without interrupting traffic.
- Drivers involved in an accident must report their name, contact information, driver’s ID number, and registration, as well as injuries.
- Drivers must assist, within reason, to anyone injured in the crash, this includes contacting emergency services, and providing transportation if necessary.
- Hitting an unattended, parked, vehicle does not excuse anyone from liability. In the lease, a note with contact information must be left.
Contact a Richmond Auto Accident Attorney
A Richmond car accident lawyer can guide you through how to process your hit and run claim. Fortunately, Virginia has a few laws in place to help the victims of a hit and run crash. Insurance policies and hit and run laws are not always easy to understand or identify how they apply to your situation, which is one reason why you may want to get proper legal representation.
Call your local car accident attorney at the Commonwealth Accident Injury Law Offices. CAIL works with victims to help them seek full compensation and recovery.