Cooper Hurley’s Paige Thomas Talks to WAVY About Hit-and-Run Accidents
Under Virginia law, drivers who are involved in a wreck must pull over as close to the accident scene as possible and exchange details, Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers attorney Paige Thomas told WAVY TV this week. However, drivers who leave the scene of an accident don’t always face charges.
Paige was interviewed as part of the Hampton Roads TV station’s story about a woman who left the scene of an accident in Hampton and initially failed to report what happened to police.
Although Virginia law is clear about the duty of a driver to remain at an accident scene, the episode highlights how police have discretion on whether or not to bring hit-and-run charges.
A serious accident involving an alleged red light runner occurred at the intersection of Briarfield Road and Power Plant Parkway in Hampton on Friday night.
Darnise Thompson said a driver went through a red light and hit her car. The impact spun Thomson’s car around five or six times and it flipped over in the road. The crash totaled her vehicle. One of her children banged her head.
As officers were clearing up the scene, Thompson learned that police finally heard from the driver. She called Hampton emergency communications to report the accident about 10 minutes after leaving the scene. Paige outlined Virginia law in an interview with WAVY.com.
“You need to pull your vehicle over as close as possible to the accident without impeding traffic. Then you need to exchange your personal information,” Paige Thomas said.
Hampton Roads Police Have Discretion over Hit-and-Run Accidents
A Hampton Police Division spokeswoman said the 29-year-old driver who left the scene would not be charged with hit-and-run. The spokeswoman said the final decision relating to charges is made by the officer in charge of the investigation.
Thompson questioned the officer’s judgment. She told WAVY she declined EMS transport and eventually took herself to the hospital. Her daughter, who was in the car at the time of the impact, banged her head. Thompson said she sustained sprains and bruising from the seatbelt. Thompson said:
“It’s a matter of life or death. What if I was knocked unconscious and my daughters were back there and they’re upside down the blood is rushing?”
Virginia law is clear about the duties of drivers who are involved in an accident. It says the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident involving death, injury or property damage “shall immediately stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic, as provided in § 46.2-888, and report his name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number” to law enforcement.
A driver also has a duty to render reasonable assistance, including taking an injured party to a physician, surgeon, or hospital if it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary or is requested by the injured person.
WAVY.com also interviewed Andy Protogyrou, an attorney with Protogyrou & Rigney Law Firm. He said:
“If there’s injury it could range to felony. If it’s property damage, it ranges to a misdemeanor.”
The alleged red light runner was cited for failure to obey a traffic signal by Hampton Police. However, she will not face charges for leaving the accident scene.
Attorneys said the classification of the citation won’t likely affect the outcome of any subsequent insurance filings.
Find out more about hit-and-run wrecks in Virginia and why police don’t always press charges on our website. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a hit-and-run driver in Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, or anywhere else in Virginia you may have grounds to file a claim against the at-fault driver. Call us today at (757) 455-0077.