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Study Reveals Sharp Rise in Fatal Hit-and-Runs

A damaged SUV following a hit-and-run crash in the DMV.

Deadly hit-and-runs are up 60% in Maryland, but what about the rest of the DMV?

Nationwide, fatal hit-and-runs have been on the rise for the past decade. The problem is especially well-known in Maryland and the DMV, according to a new 10-year study of fatal hit-and-run accidents.

Between 2012 and 2021, the years analyzed by ValuePenguin, the number of fatal hit-and-run accidents in Maryland increased by more than 60 percent. In Virginia, there are about 30 percent more deadly hit-and-runs now than 10 years ago.

Hit-and-run accidents are devastating. Not only is there the physical and emotional pain of the accident, but injured victims have the burden of figuring out how liability and compensation work when the at-fault party flees the scene of the crash. At the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC, our car accident lawyers have decades of experience investigating this type of crash and identifying potential sources of compensation for injured victims. Here's what you need to know about DMV area hit-and-runs and who is liable to pay for medical expenses and other damages.

Why are hit-and-runs happening more often?

According to the study, the increase in the number of fatal hit-and-runs between 2012 and 2021 far outpaced the uptick in the number of deadly crashes in the same period. Many factors may contribute to the rise in hit-and-runs across the country in recent years. These could include increases in car accident risk factors like speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving.

"Rising auto insurance rates, repair costs, and stiff penalties may drive more Americans to make the split-second choice to drive away from the scene of an accident for fear of the consequences," said Divya Sangameshwar for ValuePenguin.

National and DMV hit-and-run statistics

The 10-year hit-and-run study offers insight into key characteristics associated with hit-and-runs. Here are some statistics and informational highlights from the report:

  • Maryland has the 12th-highest rate of fatal hit-and-run accidents in the U.S. More than 6.5 percent of fatal crashes in the state involve a hit-and-run.
  • In Delaware, the fatal hit-and-run rate is 6.1 percent.
  • In Virginia, 3.7 percent of deadly crashes involve a hit-and-run.
  • Nationwide, there were 2,783 deadly hit-and-runs in 2021, the year with the most recent information available. This is up 89.4% from 1,469 in 2012.
  • In the U.S., 7 percent of fatal crashes in 2021 involved hit-and-runs, a nearly 50 percent increase in 10 years.
  • More than 6 in 10 fatal hit-and-runs involved a pedestrian.
  • Injury-only hit-and-runs are up, too. Injury-causing accidents in which the at-fault driver flees rose 22 percent over the time studied.

When the at-fault driver takes off, who is liable for damages?

In the DMV, the options available to injured victims and families of fatal hit-and-run victims will greatly depend on the state in which they reside and/or where the crash happened. Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have significantly different laws that apply to car accidents and insurance requirements. An experienced car accident attorney can investigate the crash and explain the financial compensation options available in a specific case. But in general, here are the options available to hit-and-run victims seeking compensation:

  • File a claim with your insurance provider. If the victim purchased uninsured motorist insurance (UM), they can file a claim with their own insurance provider. In Washington, D.C., drivers are required to purchase $30,000 in UM injury and property damage coverage. In Maryland and Virginia, drivers are advised to purchase UM, but it is not a requirement to legally drive. Other types of voluntary insurance that may be available in a hit-and-run are Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and MedPay.
  • Identify the at-fault driver. This is not always possible. However, an investigation might lead to the at-fault driver's identity. Fatal hit-and-runs are almost always investigated by police, as are serious injury-causing crashes. If the victim is represented by an attorney, they will also conduct an investigation to determine liable parties, which may include the driver. Once the at-fault driver is ID'd, the victim can file a claim or lawsuit against them.
  • Manufacturer of defective auto parts. If the driver who fled the scene is identified, an investigation may reveal that the person behind the wheel isn't the only one at fault. Defective parts like faulty brakes or a defective tire may have also contributed to the accident. In that case, a victim may also be eligible to file a claim or lawsuit against the company.
  • Apply to a victim compensation fund. Some states have victim compensation funds available to victims of violent crimes. Virginia has one - the Virginia Victims Fund. The program helps people pay for medical expenses, funerals, and other expenses. It is funded by fines and fees collected from offenders.

Talk to a car accident lawyer to review your legal options

The Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC, with decades of experience in hit-and-run accidents, is ready to investigate, build a strong case, and advocate for the compensation you deserve. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a DMV hit-and-run, contact us for a free case evaluation to explore your potential legal options.

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