There are a number of reasons why individuals don’t remain at the scene of an accident. Panic, not having a proper drivers license, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or lack of proper insurance are just a few. No matter what the reason, leaving the scene of an accident is never a good idea. Leaving the scene can cause you to face stiff fines and criminal charges.
When an accident occurs you are responsible for stopping either at the scene or as close to it as possible. If the other driver is present, you are responsible for providing him or her with certain personal documentation including:
- Driver’s License information (DL Number and address)
- Vehicle insurance information (Carrier information and policy number), and
If the owner is not present when the accident takes place, you are bound to do your best to find them. Most jurisdictions will require that you exercise reasonable effort to locate the driver. If they can’t be found, then you will still be responsible for leaving the above information in a place where it can be found. Also, it is a good idea to file a police report to serve as your official reporting of the accident.
Damage to Person
Similar to the increase in criminal liability, there is an increase in care that must be taken when your hit and run accident results in injury to a person. If you leave the scene, you could be convicted of a felony and face jail time. If the person that you hit is injured you are bound by law to stay until help in the form of an ambulance has arrived. For accidents that take place in a remote area, you must bring the injured person to the nearest medical facility for proper attention.
In the event that the accident results in death you must immediately contact the highway patrol, sheriff’s office or local police department to report to the scene.
If you leave the scene of an accident, you should return. Police departments are highly sophisticated when it comes to tracking down perpetrators that leave the scene of an accident (especially where injury to a person results, as it carries felony penalties). However there are certain measures you should take to protect yourself. First, don’t volunteer any information to the police officers. You must be cooperative, but only answer the questions asked and keep in mind that whatever you say can be used against you in court. Also, do not under any circumstances admit blame. The fault of the accident is a determination that will be made via the evidence.
Seeking Legal Advice
Leaving the scene of an accident can carry minor to hefty penalties, including prison time. It is crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to obtain sound legal advice. Only an attorney licensed in your area can provide you with representation during the legal process.