You’ve heard so many horror stories about hit and run accidents, you would never dream of leaving someone suffering at the scene of a crash. So when the police contacted you to tell you that could be facing hit and run charges, you were shocked. Can it still be a “hit and run” if you hit a vehicle with nobody in it?
Drivers Can Be Charged with Hit & Run for a Crash with an Unattended Vehicle
In Virginia, drivers can be charged with hit-and-run if they leave the scene of an accident that resulted in damages to people or property. If you struck an unattended vehicle, you could face either Class 4 or Class 1 misdemeanor charges, depending on the extent of the damage you caused.
You may be charged with a hit and run of an unoccupied vehicle if you:
- Did not notify the owner. Drivers are required to make a reasonable effort to find the owner of the property that they have damaged. When you locate the owner, you must provide him or her with your name, address, driver's license number, and vehicle registration number. If you cannot find the owner, you may leave a note with this information in or on the damaged vehicle at the scene of the accident.
Did not notify the police. In addition to finding the owner, you are also required to notify the police within 24 hours of the accident. You must report the accident in writing, noting the date, time, and location of the accident and a short description of the property damage. Provide your name, address, driver's license number, vehicle registration number, and phone number so that the authorities can contact you.
- Are a passenger. Under Virginia law, passengers over the age of 16 can be held liable for an accident if they were in the vehicle during the crash and failed to report the incident. If the passenger is prevented from leaving a note or contacting the owner, he or she is still required to report the accident to the police within 24 hours of the crash.
What if I Was Unable to Report the Accident?
In some cases, drivers and passengers may not be able to notify owners and authorities after a crash. For example, if you were injured or unconscious after the accident, you are responsible for reporting the accident as soon as you are able. If police officers want to speak with you while you are still in the hospital, call the Easley Law Firm today at (888) 386-3898 to find out what you must do immediately in order to build your defense.