It’s hard to imagine that anyone would leave the scene of an accident, especially when a person has been injured or killed. But it happens more often than it should, many times leaving victims and families without recourse. When there is a violation of the law – not reporting a car accident or rendering aid – law in Clarksburg lays out stiff penalties if caught.
How Erin’s Law Is Used in Hit-and-Run Cases in West Virginia
Although there have always been laws in place concerning hit and runs, in 2010 penalties increased for those who leave the scene when someone has been killed. Erin’s Law is named after a nursing student, Erin Keener, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 2005. She had just stepped outside Vincent’s Bar on Merchant Street in Fairmont when a car struck her, dragging her about 80 feet and leaving her for dead on the pavement. Tragically, she died three days later.
Previously, there wasn’t a minimum sentence, and the most time that could be spent in jail was three years. Under Erin’s Law, it is a felony with a minimum one-year sentence and the possibility of up to five years' imprisonment. Additionally, there could be fines as high as $5,000.
West Virginia Laws Pertaining Duty to Report a Car Accident
Under Statute 17C-4-6, any driver who is involved in a crash where property damage appears to exceed $1,000 or there has been an injury or death must report the car accident and render aid. Law states this should be done as quickly as possible, contacting the local police department, county sheriff or other law enforcement.
West Virginia Laws Pertaining to Duty to Render Aid
Under Statute 17C-4-3, the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash where someone has been hurt or killed must render aid. This could include carrying the person to safety or making arrangements (such as calling 911) for medical attention to be received. It applies whenever treatment is obviously necessary and/or the injured person requests it.
Additionally, this statute requires that the driver also provide his or her name, address and vehicle’s registration number when reporting a car accident. And upon another driver or occupant’s request, his or her driver’s license must also be shown.
Not rendering aid? Laws the Injured Can Use Against the Perpetrator
The victim of an accident or the family of a loved one who was killed in a crash has the option to file a lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver. It doesn’t usually take long before the person either comes forward on his or her own or the police are able to locate the individual.
In a typical accident, compensation would be sought for compensatory damages. This could include the medical bills incurred, repair costs and lost earnings for time missed from work. But in a personal injury lawsuit, there may be other forms of compensation available, such as pain and suffering, disability, and disfigurement.
In the event of a loved one’s death, a wrongful death claim could be pursued. This may allow for other types of damages such as loss of consortium and funeral expenses. It even may be possible to recover punitive damages -- which are awarded in cases to punish the defendant for his or her reprehensible actions.
Although any type of accident can be stressful and traumatic, it becomes especially difficult to cope when the responsible party doesn’t report a car accident. Someone who has been seriously injured may have been saved by the prompt treatment that comes with reporting a car accident. And of course there is the whole issue of someone’s moral obligation to help.
Hit-and-run accidents may seem hopeless at first. To take some of the burden off of your family after a Clarksburg hit and run, you can call The Miley Legal Group, who will explain about recovering compensation in a hit and run: (304) 931-4088.