A predawn hit-and-run collision in Newport News, Virginia (VA), on March 10, 2018, left an older male pedestrian dead. The fatal crash happened at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Mercury Boulevard at around 3:30 am, and investigators have a good description of the fleeing driver’s vehicle.
Newport News Police are asking residents to be on the lookout for a white 2013 Nissan Altima with significant front-end damage. Anyone who spots the car or who knows the identity of the hit-and-run driver should call the Crime Line at (888) LOCK-U-UP (562-5887). Tips can be shared anonymously.
The pedestrian, identified in news reports only as a man in his late 50s or early 60s, died from his injuries at the scene. The intersection where the driver struck him and left him for dead is controlled by stoplights in all four directions. Crosswalks connect all the corners, and sidewalks run along both Jefferson Avenue and Mercury Boulevard.
Questions about whether the pedestrian or the driver had right of way at the time of the crash actually take a back seat to the fact that the driver fled the scene. Virginia considers causing a death as a result of a hit-and-run collision a very serious crime. Holding the at-fault driver criminally accountable is important.
Equally important, bringing the hit-and-run driver into custody will allow the family of the deceased pedestrian to file wrongful death claims against the person who has the legal obligation to pay compensation and damages. While the grieving family members might have coverage under the uninsured motorist, or UM, provisions of their loved one’s car insurance policy, exercising that option does not represent justice.
Sadly, the family who lost their father, husband, brother, uncle and/or grandfather in this Newport News crash joins an ever-growing group of people devastated by hit-and-run drivers. Florida, one the handful of states that collects data specifically on hit-and-run crashes, has tracked a steady increase in such incidents over the last four years.
In press materials released ahead of the state’s February 2018 Hit and Run Awareness Month, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles noted that “since 2014, in a quarter of all crashes every year, a driver leaves the scene. In 2017, there were 98,225 hit-and-run crashes in Florida with 177 fatalities.”
The agency also pointed out that “bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly at risk in hit and run crashes. In fact, of the 177 hit-and-run fatalities in 2017, more than 100 cases involved pedestrians and bicycles.”
Should the family of the Newport News pedestrian need to invoke uninsured motorist coverage, they can seek advice and assistance from an experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney. The process can get a little complicated.
As we explain elsewhere on our website, “In order to receive compensation for your personal injury from UM insurance, you essentially file a claim against your own insurance company. They then ‘represent’ the at-fault driver's side and then provide compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.” Insurance companies do not appreciate essentially suing themselves, so they may throw up obstacles UM claimants must clear to receive a fair settlement. Just because an insurance company must provide uninsured motorist coverage, it has no absolute duty to pay fair compensation. This means an insurer can fight a UM claim in the same way it does any other.