If you experienced an injury as the result of a hit and run driver in Virginia, do not lose hope, there is still a chance to recover damages. If an unknown driver hit your car and fled the scene of the crash, you can still be compensated for your injury if you have proper uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is coverage under your own car insurance policy that you might not realize is available to you. According to Virginia Code § 38.2-2206 (G), an injured party may bring a personal injury action against an unknown driver as a “John Doe” claim against any uninsured motorist coverage that may be available.
Uninsured (UIM) and Underinsured Motorist (UM) insurance covers a loss caused by someone else who does not have any insurance or lesser insurance coverage than that of the injured party. Since a John Doe driver who causes a crash and flees the scene is unknown, the law considers that an uninsured driver because John Doe’s insurance is unknown. Accordingly, when hit by an unknown driver, an injured person can recover under any applicable uninsured motorist coverage that may be available.
If a John Doe driver causes an injury to you, there are typically three sources of underinsured motorist coverage that could apply to you:
Virginia Code § 38.2-2206 (B)(2) further explains that the order above is the priority when multiple policies provide coverage.
Not until a judgment is entered.
Unfortunately, an insurance carrier is not obligated to pay any portion of its uninsured motorist coverage until a judge or jury renders a judgment on the matter. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed this in Manu v. GEICO Cas. Co., 293 Va. 371 (2017). An uninsured motorist claim is rooted in the contract between the insured and the insurance company. These policies are written to not require any coverage to be afforded until an insured is legally entitled to recover, which means going to court and getting a judgment.
Additionally, there are no bad faith laws in Virginia that require an insurance carrier to act in good faith to try to settle these uninsured cases. Because your insurance carrier is not required to settle your uninsured/underinsured motorist claim, this often results in you spending the time and money to go to trial. If you would like to look further at how the lack of bad faith uninsured/underinsured laws in Virginia may affect your case, you can read further about these issues here.
If you are not at fault, then no.
This means that an insurance company cannot increase your rates if you make a claim against it for a hit and run accident if you were not partially at fault, and no one on the policy, or resident household member, or customary operator is also at fault. If an insurance carrier does increase the premium as a result of a motor vehicle collision, it must notify the insured in writing, which can be appealed by the insured.
Here at Curcio Law, we take a hard look and specialize in handling John Doe hit and run cases. It is important to have an experienced attorney who understands the applicable law and can uncover the maximum amount of potential insurance coverage available for your injury. If you or a loved one were involved in a hit and run crash that resulted in an injury, please reach out to discuss your rights with a Virginia personal injury attorney at Curcio Law.
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