Liability in a Hit and Run Accident

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Hit and run accidents present a more complex situation than regular car accidents, in that more often than not, the person at fault is also the person that flees the scene of the accident.  There are number of reasons why individuals leave after an accident and none of them are worth the ensuing legal complications that arise from violating this law. Driving statutes are written to punish those that don’t accept responsibility for their actions, especially if the actions result in injury to an individual.

Types of Hit and Run

There are three types of hit and run accidents.  Whether the accident takes place in front of individuals or there are no witnesses, leaving the scene in any of these instances is against the law.  First, there are those hit and runs that result only in damage to property. This usually occurs when someone hit a car in a parking lot.  Next, are hit and run accidents that result in injury to an actual person, be it another driver, a passenger or a pedestrian.  Finally, there are those hit and run accidents that result in actual death to an individual, another driver, passenger or pedestrian. 

Criminal Liability

Depending on who or what is injured, a person can be ticketed or charged with a crime.  If during the course of the hit and run only property is damaged, depending on where you live, the penalty could range from a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident to being charged with a misdemeanor and facing no more than six months in the county jail.  However, if there is injury to a person the situation becomes more serious.  Leaving the scene of an accident in that situation is a felony in every jurisdiction within the United States.   The penalties that accompany this charge can range from extensive fines, prison time, and suspension of driving privileges.

Civil Liability

As with most offenses involving vehicles, civil liability for hit and run accidents is based on the principles of negligence.  If civil charges are brought there will have to be a determination of the driver’s duty, breach of that duty, the breach being the cause of the victim’s injuries and of course damages.  Not all people that leave the scene of an accident actually were at fault, and depending on the circumstances surrounding the event, there can be no civil liability incurred. 

Seeking Legal Help

If you have been involved in a hit and run accident on either side, you will need the guidance and assistance of effective legal counsel.  Only a licensed attorney in your area can effectively represent you to fully protect your rights.