Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Virginia – It’s a Crime
Getting into a motor vehicle accident is always stressful and confusing. To add fuel to the fire, sometimes drivers do not stay at the scene of the accident. As a personal injury attorney in Hampton Roads, I have seen many accident scenes made more complicated by the fleeing of the at-fault party. Leaving the scene of an accident in Virginia is not only reprehensible – it’s a crime.
Virginia’s “hit and run” laws are found in Virginia Code § 46.2-894. This code section sets out the duties of both drivers and passengers of vehicles involved in wrecks, and the penalties for those who do not comply with these required duties.
Leaving the scene of an accident in Virginia is an offense
If you are the driver of a vehicle who hits another vehicle that is occupied, the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Virginia can be severe. The law imposes a duty on the driver to stop at the scene of the accident, exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle(s) involved, and offer assistance to any person that was injured as a result of the accident.
The level of punishment prescribed by the statute to someone who leaves the scene depends on.
- Whether any injuries resulted from the accident;
- Whether the other vehicle was attended or unattended
- The amount of property damage inflicted to the vehicle.
For instance, if the wreck results in injury or death, the offense is a Class 5 Felony – punishable by “a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years.
The Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Virginia
At the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement the crime can lead to jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both” according to Virginia Code § 18.2-10(e). If the vehicle is unattended and the property damage is relatively minor (less than $250), the offense is classified as a Class 4 Misdemeanor.
To further complicate matters, if the driver flees the scene and is not apprehended, how then can you make an insurance claim to get compensated for your injuries? The answer is that in situations where you are injured by a hit-and-run driver or someone without auto insurance, your own uninsured motorist coverage should protect you.
If you have been injured in an accident and the driver does not stop at the scene, you need the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer to navigate the complicated waters of an uninsured motorist claim. Contact Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757-455-0077 for a free consultation.