Every state has laws that outlaw fleeing from the scene of a car accident. Such an act is called a hit and run. This law is meant to offer help to those who are injured, and provide a chance for those involved in an accident to exchange insurance and identification information. Hit and run laws also prevent a person from escaping civil or criminal liability arising from the crash. The following webpage will discuss how drivers should act after an accident, the punishment for leaving the scene of an accident, and how you should act after a driver leaves the scene of an accident.
How a Driver Should Act if Property is Damaged
If a driver damages property in an accident like lampposts, trees, or parked vehicles, they should make reasonable efforts to identify themselves to the owners. If the property owner is not available, leaving a note with their information on the ruined property is sufficient.
How a Driver Should Act if a Non-Driver Has Been Injured
A responsible driver is legally required to offer assistance after the occurrence of an accident. This means helping fellow drivers, passengers, and pedestrians affected by the crash. After rendering help, the driver is required to remain at the scene until a law enforcement officer arrives.
How a Driver Should Act if a Pet Has Been Injured
When a pet is injured in an accident, the liable driver should assist the injured pet. Pets are classified as property, and therefore, the driver should exchange information with the owner. If a pet dies at the hands of the driver, it translates as a loss to the owner, and increases the liability of the driver.
Punishments for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Accidents with No Injuries
In many states, when a driver leaves the scene of a crash that led to property damage but no injuries, they can be charged with a misdemeanor. The driver may be required to pay a fine of up to $1,000 or face one year in prison.
Accidents with Injuries
The penalties are more severe when drivers leave an accident that led to personal injury. In some states, it is considered a felony. A felony translates to a huge fine and more than a year in prison. The penalty for leaving the scene of a crash, after it has resulted in the death of a person, is a far more serious felony that could lead to many years in prison.
How Should You Act After a Hit and Run?
The first thing you should do, if your car is struck by another car that leaves the scene of the collision, is record all the visible details of the vehicle. This includes the color, model, and make of the vehicle. If you are able to see the license number, record it as well. Talk to any witnesses to the accident and take their contacts. If your vehicle is damaged take photos to serve as evidence.
Record a Police Statement
The next step is to record a statement with the police. Give the police all the important information regarding the incident to increase the chances of finding and apprehending the runaway driver.
Report the Incident to Your Insurance Company
Since the driver who would have covered the damage to your vehicle is at large, you will be forced to meet the cost for damages with your own insurance policy. Therefore, it is important to contact your insurance provider immediately. A hit and run is covered by collision coverage and; therefore, your insurance provider will pay for the damages but you will be expected to pay deductibles. If you do not have this coverage, you will not be able to pay for damages through your insurance policy.
The other option for you is the uninsured motorist coverage. Many insurance policies have uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage is meant to protect you, in case the driver who causes the crash is not insured. A hit and run driver can in this case be treated like an uninsured driver. The uninsured coverage will cater for your medical expenses, loss of wages, rehabilitation, and other kinds of damages.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense. Drivers who do so face harsh penalties. If you are involved in an accident and the driver leaves the scene, you should not follow them. You should neither leave the scene, as this will lower your chances of getting justice. Take notes of the incident, record a police statement, and contact your insurance provider.