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I was injured by a "hit and run" driver who fled the scene and whose identity is unknown. Do I have a case? Against whom?

You have a case. It is referred to as a "John Doe" case for obvious reasons. If you are injured by an unknown driver, you may file a claim against your own auto insurance company. The case lies against the uninsured motorist coverage of your policy, also known as UM coverage. The case is not made any easier just because it is against your own insurance company. The insurer defending the claim has the right to act on behalf of the unknown driver and assert all available defenses against you. Thus, the case at all times remains an adversarial process. As with other forms of cases, if your insurance company fails to deal fairly on a "John Doe" claim, you have the right to file suit and litigate the case in our court system. All too often, it is the threat of litigation or the litigation process itself which will put enough legal and financial pressure on the insurance company to prompt settlement.  

There also may be issues pertaining to the coordination of "John Doe" coverage under multiple policies. Depending on the case, there may be coverage available through a variety of auto insurance sources. An investigation into these sources must be undertaken in every case.

So, the good news is that a legal remedy exists against unknown wrongdoers. However, the case is potentially difficult and legally complex. Nonetheless, UM coverage is a valuable consumer benefit made available by Virginia law. When buying auto insurance coverage, we recommend that you purchase the highest amount available. It serves as valuable protection not only against uninsured drivers who cause injury, but also against unknown wrongdoers who may "hit and run" and thus evade identification from their victims and the police.

Andrew Thomas
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Andrew Thomas is an experienced civil litigation attorney in Virginia and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.