Virginia has consistently ranked as one of the most bicycle-friendly states in America. While the state has spent years developing bike lanes and other cycle-specific infrastructure, accidents still happen with alarming regularity. If you’re in a bike accident with a vehicle, you can ordinarily expect the at-fault driver’s insurance to cover your losses. However, the odds of making a successful legal recovery may seem insurmountable if the at-fault driver refuses to stop and render aid, leaving you injured and unable to identify the wrongdoer.
Protecting Your Recovery After a Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accident
If you, or a loved one, suffered injuries in a hit-and-run bicycle accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation through an insurance settlement or personal injury lawsuit. However, securing compensation might be difficult if you are unable to identify the individual who caused the accident.
You could bolster your chances of making a successful recovery by:
- Calling 911. You should always contact law enforcement after a hit-and-run accident. The police can document your observable injuries and launch an investigation to locate and detain the at-fault motorist. Even if they cannot arrest the other driver, you can still use the police report when negotiating with your own insurance company.
- Gathering evidence. If you do not require urgent medical care, try to gather evidence. You can take pictures of your injuries, the damage to your bicycle, and any nearby road signs, traffic control signals, or landmarks. If you saw the vehicle that hit you, immediately write down or record a description of everything you remember, including the vehicle’s make, color, and any unique identifying features such as tinted windows or customized bodywork.
- Speaking to eyewitnesses. If another motorist or bystander witnessed the accident, ask them for their name and contact information—their testimony could prove critical in court or when trying to secure a fair insurance settlement.
- Seeking medical attention. Even if you do not believe you were seriously injured in the crash, schedule an appointment with a physician or other medical professional as soon as possible. A doctor could help identify injuries you did not realize you sustained. Seeking medical attention also shows your insurance company that you had legitimate concerns about your health and are not simply fabricating a complaint for personal gain.
- Contacting an attorney. The police do not always prioritize traffic accidents, especially when they do not believe they can locate the driver. A Virginia bicycle accident attorney could collaborate with law enforcement to obtain evidence and locate the perpetrator. Even if a suspect cannot be identified, your lawyer will review all of your available options for compensation.
Making a Claim Against Your Own Insurance
Although you were riding a bicycle when the accident occurred, you can still file a personal injury claim through your own car insurance company. This is because Virginia state law mandates that all automobile policies include “Uninsured Motorist” and “Underinsured Motorist” coverage.
While these coverages are intended to cover damages caused by drivers who do not have insurance or are under-insured, they could also provide assistance after a hit and run.
However, you should never assume that your insurance company will go out of its way to help you. Because insurance companies are for-profit businesses, they often care more about their bottom line than ensuring their customers get the money they need to recover from a serious bicycle accident. They might tell you that your policy does not cover hit-and-run accidents or offer you a low-ball, bad-faith settlement.
Potential Damages After a Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accident
Depending on whether the police are able to locate the at-fault driver, you could have several options for a legal recovery. They include:
- An insurance settlement through the at-fault driver’s carrier
- An insurance settlement through your policy’s Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage
- A personal injury lawsuit against the other motorist
You could be entitled to compensation for damages such as:
- Your hospital bills
- Any past, present, or future medical expenses
- The income you lost from work during recovery or while taking time away from work for physical rehabilitation and follow-up physician appointments
- Paid time off (PTO) exhausted after a crash
- Diminished earning potential
- Loss of enjoyment
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
Unlike some other states, Virginia does not limit the amount of money you can recover after a hit-and-run bicycle accident. However, it is imperative that you act fast. If you wait too long to initiate an investigation or file a claim, law enforcement could lose the evidence you need to prove your injuries or track down the at-fault motorist.
Virginia also has a stringent statute of limitations—a special set of laws that could prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit if you do not contact an attorney quickly.
Contact Us Today
You should never have to pay the price for another person’s negligence. The Law Office of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi has spent years fighting for the rights of Virginia hit-and-run accident victims. Please send us a message online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.