Hit-and-runs do not just affect the victim. When a person dies in a hit-and-run, their family often suffers significant emotional and financial injury. If police identify the hit-and-run driver, the victim’s family can pursue a civil wrongful death lawsuit in addition to the criminal charges the driver may face. While no amount of money can bring a deceased loved one back, a civil damages award can help begin to provide closure and recover compensation for the harm the driver has caused.
As a recent news segment reported, police are searching for the driver who committed a fatal hit-and-run in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The accident occurred when the driver struck one man at a local intersection. When police arrived at the scene, the man was unresponsive. Sadly, he later died at the hospital.
Can You Sue the Responsible Driver After a Fatal Virginia Hit-and-Run Accident?
If police have identified the responsible hit-and-run driver, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit after the loss of your loved one. In Virginia, the victim’s personal representative must bring the lawsuit, but the damages award goes to the victim’s surviving dependents. Plaintiffs can bring a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased could have brought suit had they survived the accident. This theory of recovery ensures that the defendant does not escape liability because the deceased is not alive to sue the defendant themselves. Therefore, a successful wrongful death claim will prove all four elements of a typical negligence lawsuit. To prevail on a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove the hit-and-run driver owed the deceased a duty of care; the driver violated that duty through their negligent behavior; their negligence caused the hit-and-run accident; and that the victim died as a result. The plaintiff must prove these elements by the “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning it is at least 51% likely that the defendant’s negligence caused the victim’s death.
Can You Sue a Virginia Hit-And-Run Driver Who Also Faces Criminal Charges?
A criminal trial against a hit-and-run driver does not bar the victim’s loved ones from bringing a civil negligence lawsuit. Criminal and civil cases are separate proceedings, and the outcome of one case typically does not affect the other. While a criminal conviction may lead to punitive fines, it will often fail to adequately compensate the victim’s family. A civil lawsuit can allow the victim’s family to recover damages if the jury or judge finds the defendant liable for negligence. An experienced Virginia personal injury attorney can help you understand the important differences between civil and criminal cases.
Do You Need a Fatal Virginia Hit-And-Run Accident Lawyer?
If you have lost a loved one in a fatal Virginia hit-and-run accident, speaking with a personal injury attorney can help you understand your next steps. While bringing a wrongful death lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind, it can help your family recover the compensation you need after a tragic accident. The attorneys at our firm possess decades of combined experience providing compassionate representation to accident victims and their families. We will work with you at every step of the way and fight for the damages award your family deserves. To discuss your case with a skilled Virginia hit-and-run accident lawyer, give us a call at 240-833-3914.