WV Hit and Run Accident Lawyers
Over 737,000 hit and run accidents occurred in the United States in 2015 alone, according to a study by the American Automobile Association. That’s about one hit and run in the U.S. every 43 seconds. The trend for these dangerous and often deadly types of auto accidents continues to rise every year. If you or someone you love is involved in a West Virginia hit and run crash, it’s important to know what steps to take next.
What is a Hit and Run Accident?
A hit and run accident is when a vehicle hits a person, another vehicle, or object and knowingly leaves the scene without providing their information. It’s important to remember that some state laws classify accidents as a hit and run even if it didn’t happen on a highway or road. For example, if your car is parked in a parking lot and is struck by another car this can be classified as a hit and run if the other individual does not provide their information.
To learn more about your state’s laws involving hit and run cases check out Leaving the Scene of an Accident/Hit and Run: State Laws.
What to do After a Hit and Run
State Farm Insurance offers the following suggestions for what to do after a hit and run. As experienced West Virginia accident attorneys, these suggestions make sense.
- Don’t follow the fleeing driver: That could put you in danger, cause you to lose danger evidence like getting eyewitness accounts, and could cause the police to question who is at fault.
- Do call 911: This is especially true if someone was injured or if there is more than $500 damage to your vehicle. West Virginia law requires 911 to be called under those circumstances. It’s also important to get an official crash report; calling 911 will help with that.
- Do collect as much information about the other driver, vehicle and accident as possible, including:
- License plate number
- The other vehicle’s make, model and color, and any other identifying information
- Description of damage to the other vehicle
- Which direction the other vehicle was headed
- Location, date, time and cause of the accident
- Description of the other driver and any passengers
- Do identify witnesses, get their contact information, and ask if they can supply additional information about the accident, the other driver, or any other relevant information that can help the police potentially locate and/or identify the other driver.
Bonus Tip: Do get a Free Case Evaluation to help determine your rights, options, and whether you would be better off handling your accident by yourself or if an experienced personal injury lawyer could help you make a better recovery both financially and physically. If you’d like a free consultation, call us at 304-343-9378(WEST).
What are the Penalties for Committing a Hit and Run?
The specific penalties for committing a hit and run tend to vary by state. In West Virginia State laws specifically defines the consequences for hit and run accident. In §17C-4-1 of West Virginia state code it lists the penalties as follows for hit and run accidents:
- Accident Involving Death: Guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned in a state correctional facility for not less than one year nor more than five years, or both fined and imprisoned: Provided, That any death underlying a prosecution under this subsection must occur within one year of the crash.
- Accident Involving Injury: Guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000, confined in jail for not more than one year, or both fined and confined.
- Revoking of License: The commissioner shall revoke the license or permit or operating privilege to drive of any resident or nonresident person convicted pursuant to the provisions of this section for a period of one year from the date of conviction or the date of release from incarceration, whichever is later.
The offending driver may also find themselves facing a civil personal injury lawsuit for damages on top of their criminal charges. In this case, the offender would also be financially responsible for any injuries and/or damages he caused you. On the other hand, auto insurance companies are almost always the ones to pay for any accident claim or settlement.
Are There Any Exceptions to Hit and Run Accidents?
Defenses for hit and run cases are typically hard to prove. However, some defenses can render an accident to not be classified as a hit and run. The most common defenses in a hit and run case are:
- Leaving a Note with Your Information and Filing a Police Report. Accidents can sometimes occur when no one else is around. By leaving a note with your information and immediately filing a police report you may be able to prove you did not commit a hit and run.
- Responding to an Emergency. Many times individuals who commit hit and runs say that they were responding to an emergency. This can be a successful defense if the authorities determine the event the individual was responding to was an actual emergency.
- Involuntary Intoxication. Under this defense, an individual may claim that they were drugged, which resulted in them being involved in a hit and run accident. This defense is very uncommon and usually not successful, but it has been used.
- Lack of Knowledge. This defense comes into play when an individual claims they left the scene because they were unaware an accident had occurred. Much like involuntary intoxication, the use of this defense is usually unsuccessful and uncommon.
6 Ways to Increase the Odds of Finding the Fleeing Driver
Noting any details you can at the time of your hit and run accident is extremely important. Anything you see or remember can help authorities apprehend the driver that fled the scene. To increase the chances of finding the negligent driver do these 6 things if possible:
- Take note of the color and model of the car
- Collect any information from witnesses you can
- Write down any part of the license plate number you can remember
- Record the date and time that the accident occurred and the location
- Note any identifying characteristics of the driver or passengers
- Try to watch the direction that the fleeing car heads in
What are My Options if Authorities Can Not Find the Other Driver?
If authorities are unable to find the negligent driver it’s important to remember you still have other options. In this instance, you may still be able to make a claim under your insurance. In fact, under West Virginia law, every motor vehicle insurance policy must include something called uninsured motorist coverage.
However, collecting full value from your insurance can be a difficult process. It is usually best in this situation that you seek the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney to guide you through the complexities of the process. At the very least, we invite you to call us for a free case evaluation to help you learn more about your rights and options. Our toll-free number is 1-877-943-9378 (WEST).
Types of Compensation You May Receive for Your West Virginia Hit and Run Case
Accidents can leave you with piles of bills due to mental, physical, and property damages. If you have been the victim of someones else’s negligence you may be able to receive significant compensation for past and future:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages and benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost earning capacity: a decrease in a person’s ability to earn income
- Loss of consortium: Loss of some of the benefits of a family relationship due to the accident or injury
- Property Damage
- Punitive Damages, when appropriate
Remember, if you wait too long to seek out compensation for your accident you may be unable to do so due to certain statutes of limitations.
Free Consultations with A West Virginia Hit and Run Lawyer
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident because of another’s negligence, we invite you to call us for a Free Consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. There’s no risk and no fee unless we recover compensation for you. We here at West Law Firm have years of experience in recovering losses for our clients. We can help you get back to living your life and give you peace of mind knowing your claim is being handled by top-rated West Virginia injury lawyers.
West Law Firm is located in Charleston, West Virginia but we serve clients throughout. Call us today toll-free at 1-877-943-9378 for a Free Consultation to get more details about your rights and options.