The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.
Yes, if the injured person has uninsured motorist coverage available to him or her. Virginia’s uninsured motorist statute provides that a motor vehicle is considered to be uninsured if its owner or operator is unknown. In the case of hit-and-run accidents and other kinds of accidents caused by an unknown driver, an injured person can make an uninsured motorist claim under his or her own insurance policy, if that policy was issued or delivered in Virginia. It is also possible for the injured person to make an uninsured motorist claim under the policy of the vehicle the injured person was occupying at the time of the car accident, if the policy was issued or delivered in Virginia. It may also be possible for the injured person to make uninsured motorist claims under more than one policy, depending on what insurance the injured person has in his or her own name, what coverage is available for the vehicle the injured person was occupying at the time of the accident, who the injured person lives with, etc. It may also be possible for the injured person to make an uninsured motorist claim under a policy or policies issued or delivered outside of Virginia, but such claims will be governed by the law of the state where the policy or policies were issued or delivered.
If the injured person has uninsured motorist coverage available to him or her under an insurance policy issued or delivered in Virginia, the injured person’s bodily injury claim can be presented to the applicable insurance company in essentially the same way as an injury claim would be presented to an insurance company insuring an identifiable person who caused a car accident. However, Virginia’s uninsured motorist statute provides that when the identity of the owner or operator of a motor vehicle causing injury to a person is unknown and there was no contact between the unknown driver’s motor vehicle and the injured person’s vehicle or the injured person’s body, then the injured person must promptly report the accident to the insurance company providing uninsured motorist coverage or a law-enforcement officer having jurisdiction in the county or city in which the accident occurred. If it is not reasonably practicable for the injured person to make the report promptly, then the report must be made as soon as reasonably practicable under the circumstances.
If a settlement of the injured person’s uninsured motorist claim cannot be reached with the applicable insurance company or companies, then the injured person can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the unknown driver. Under such circumstances, the defendant in the lawsuit is indicated as “John Doe.” Service of the lawsuit should then be made on all insurance companies issuing or delivering policies in Virginia that may afford the injured person uninsured motorist coverage. The insurance companies served with the lawsuit will then have the right to defend the lawsuit in the name of John Doe. If a judgment is ultimately entered against John Doe in favor of the injured person, then the insurance companies issuing or delivering policies in Virginia which provide the injured person uninsured motorist coverage will be obligated to pay the amount of the judgment up to the limits of their policies, if they have been properly served. Virginia’s uninsured motorist statute also provides for the order of priority of uninsured motorist policies, if more than one Virginia policy is implicated in the case. If there are one or more out-of-state policies providing uninsured motorist coverage to the injured person, then the laws of the state where the policy or policies were issued or delivered will govern them, and the requirements for the perfection of the injured person’s uninsured motorist claim will be prescribed by the law of the state in which the out-of-state policy or policies were issued.
Determining the availability of uninsured motorist coverage to an injured person is very complex and specific to the facts of the case, so we encourage you to contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach. Our personal injury lawyer can assess what uninsured motorist coverage is available to the injured person and can determine whether the injured person has satisfied his or her duties under the policy or policies and the applicable state law. As in all personal injury cases, personal injury lawyers can also advise the injured person as to the value of the personal injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making an injury claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.
To learn more about uninsured motorist coverage in Virginia, click here.
Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyer in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.