Virginia Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Virginia Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Virginia hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
In Virginia, it is unlawful to leave the scene of an accident without fulfilling the obligations listed in Virginia code section 46.2-896. You are guilty of a misdemeanor if the accident results in property damage and a felony if anyone dies or suffers serious bodily injury.
Quick take: Leaving the scene of an accident in Virginia
- Passengers in Virginia have a legal obligation to report an accident if the driver is incapable.
- You have twenty-four hours to file an accident report in Virginia
- Failure to report an accident is a misdemeanor or felony if the victim dies.
- Virginia is an at-fault state.
- You have two years to file a personal injury claim.
- Do not admit fault at the scene of an accident.
- Code of Virginia title 46.2. sections 46.2-894 through to 46.3-902.1. Virginia hit and run laws/leaving the scene of an accident.
Virginia hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
Under Code of Virginia title 46.2. sections 46.2-894 through to 46.3-902.1. You have a legal obligation to immediately stop your vehicle whenever you are involved in a traffic collision. The statute says that you may stop at the scene or as close as possible to the scene without interfering with traffic.
What to do after an accident in Virginia
Code section 46.2-894. “Duty of Driver to Stop” states that you must do the following immediately after an accident.
- Give your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to law enforcement officers present at the scene and the struck person or property owner.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it, including transporting the victim to a physician or hospital.
- File a police report as soon as possible.
Failure to comply with the requirements above will lead to class 1 misdemeanor charges if the damage done amounts to more than $1000, and a felony if anyone dies or suffers serious injuries.
Section 46.2-895. requires that, quote:
“If the driver fails to stop and make the report required by § 46.2-894, every person sixteen years of age or older in the vehicle with the driver at the time of the accident, who knows about the accident, shall have a duty to ensure that a report is made within twenty-four hours from the time of the accident to the State Police or, if the accident occurs in a city or town, to the local law enforcement agency.”
If you are a passenger and fail to report the accident, you may face Class 4 misdemeanor charges or felony charges.
In short, to avoid criminal charges in Virginia after an accident, you must:
- First, stop your vehicle and remain at the scene until peace officers arrive.
- If required, or if the victim requests it, you may transport the individual to a physician or hospital.
- You have twenty-four hours to file a police report. If incapable, a passenger from your vehicle may do it on your behalf.
- Exchange information before you leave the scene.
- If you are a passenger and the driver is incapacitated, you should notify law enforcement and file a report within 24 hours.
It is also worth noting that under section 46.2-899, the provisions of the article apply to accidents that occur on private and public property.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Virginia?
Yes. Section 46.2-894 states that you are guilty of a misdemeanor if you leave the scene of an accident in Virginia without fulfilling the statutory obligations mentioned above.
Furthermore, failure to report a reportable accident in Virginia within 24 hours is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine.
What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle in Virginia?
Under section 46.2-896. If you hit an unattended vehicle or property, you must make a reasonable effort to find the owner of the struck property. If you cannot locate the property owner, you may leave a note containing your name, address, and vehicle registration on a conspicuous section of the struck vehicle.
If the property damage is above $1000, you must report the incident to law enforcement within twenty-four hours.
A hit-and-run involving an unattended vehicle is a class 4 misdemeanor in Virginia.
Failure to furnish proof of insurance in Virginia
Section 46.2-902.1 reads in part, quote:
“Failure to furnish proof of insurance or payment of the uninsured vehicle registration fee when required by a law enforcement officer as provided in this section within thirty days shall constitute a Class 2 misdemeanor.
What is a reportable accident in Virginia?
Under code section 46.2-373, you must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage above $1500.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Virginia?
Yes. If the accident involves serious injury or death, leaving the scene without fulfilling the requirements above is a felony.
Section 46.2-900 “penalty for violation of sections 46.2-895 through 46.2-897,” says that:
- If the accident results in death or injury, leaving the scene is a class 6 felony.
- If you hit an unattended vehicle and the property damage is less than $250, you are guilty of a class 4 misdemeanor.
- Upon conviction for a class 4 misdemeanor, the state will assign three demerit points.
DUI hit and run and manslaughter
Section 18.2-36.1 “certain conduct punishable as involuntary manslaughter” reads in part, quote:
“Any person who, as a result of driving under the influence in violation of clause (ii), (iii), or (iv) of § 18.2-266 or any local ordinance substantially similar thereto unintentionally causes the death of another person, shall be guilty of involuntary manslaughter.”
Under the statute, involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a maximum of twenty years.
Upon conviction for involuntary manslaughter, the state will revoke your driving privileges.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Virginia?
- Hit and run involving property damage. Class 1 misdemeanor. Punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2500.
- Hit and run involving unattended property or vehicle. Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $250 and no jail time.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death. Class 5 (wobbler) felony, punishable by up to 10 years for felony charges or 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine for misdemeanor charges.
- Failure to furnish proof of insurance. Class 2 misdemeanor. Punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.
- Passenger’s failure to report hit and run involving death or serious injury. Class 6 (wobbler) felony. Punishable by up to five years in prison for felony offenses or 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine for misdemeanor offenses.
Civil and administrative penalties
After a hit and run in Virginia, the victim or struck property owner has the option to take civil action. You may also file a claim with your insurer if you have a cover.
Because of that, you should do the following to help police find the hit and run driver:
- Call the police
- Document everything, including the fleeing driver’s description, car make, colour, and damage to the vehicle.
- Save dashcam footage, collect witness testimonies and contact information if capable.
- If the driver stops, do not threaten, or engage in road rage.
- Seek medical attention.
- Do not comment about your health while at the scene.
- Do not admit fault.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who may need it.
Is Virginia a no-fault state?
No. Virginia is an at-fault state. What that means is the party that is responsible for the accident -pays the victim. The victim may recover damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost income. We recommend consulting with a claim’s attorney immediately.
Note. Section 8.01-58 “contributory negligence” requires the state to diminish the claimant’s damages based on his share of responsibility for the accident. The statute reads, quote:
“In all actions brought against any such common carrier to recover damages for personal injuries to any employee or when such injuries have resulted in his death, the fact that such employee may have been guilty of contributory negligence shall not bar a recovery, but the damages shall be diminished by the jury in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to such employee; and no such employee, who may be injured or killed, shall be held to have been guilty of contributory negligence in any case when the violation by such common carrier of any statute enacted for the safety of employees contributed to the injury or death of such employee.”
How long after an accident can you sue in Virginia?
- The statute of limitations for personal injury in Virginia is two years.
- If the victim dies, the family has two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit starting from the date of death.
- Virginia’s statute of limitations on property damage is five years.
Virginia hit and run laws. Possible defenses
Depending on the facts, your lawyer may argue:
- You were unaware of your involvement in a traffic collision.
- Leaving the scene was involuntary.
- Mistaken identity.
- The victim threatened or attacked you (you had a valid reason to fear for your safety).
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