According to national statistics, hit and run drivers are responsible for the deaths of more than 1,500 victims each year. It is almost impossible to imagine that a driver who has hit someone with their vehicle would just flee the scene, leaving the victim hurt and in need of medical help. Tragically, this is a scene that plays out over and over again every single day. In fact, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 20 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents are classified as hit and run events.
Tracking Down a Hit and Run Driver
There are many tragic cases where the driver is never found, however, due to the sophisticated investigation techniques available to police today, approximately 90 percent of drivers who flee the scene of a fatal crash are identified.
Investigations are also assisted by the multiple roadway cameras and security system videos that can be utilized, as well as witnesses who come forward.
Evidence left behind at the scene is also another way that drivers are caught. Pieces of the vehicle often end up on the ground or on the victim’s clothing. If there are witnesses, they are also a good source of providing descriptions of the vehicle and fleeing driver.
Once a driver is either caught or voluntarily turns themselves in, they then must deal with the consequences of their decision to flee through the criminal justice system. Under Virginia law, a hit-and-run felony charge is classified as a Class 5 felony. A person convicted of a Class 5 felony faces a one-year minimum prison sentence, up to 10 years, as well as a substantial fine.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
But separate from the criminal charges the driver faces, they may also be held liable for the victim’s death in civil court. Families of hit and run victims can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver. This action is entirely separate from the criminal charges the driver faces.
Our Virginia personal injury law firm has successfully represented many families of fatal vehicle accidents and we understand that no amount of money can ever take the place of the loved one who was killed. We also understand that the sudden loss is not only emotionally devastating but can also be financially devastating as well. Families are suddenly faced with expensive funeral and burial costs, as well as the loss of income their loved one provided. This financial impact can leave a victim’s family facing terrible financial burdens, even the loss of their home because they can no longer afford the mortgage.
If you have lost a loved one to a fatal vehicle crash, contact a Virginia wrongful death attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have against the driver responsible for your loss. We also offer a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost a loved one in an accident. The guide covers topics such as the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, what types of damages can be pursued, and who can be appointed as a personal representative.