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.