Vehicle accidents can bring out the worst of human nature especially a hit and run case. It’s quite a natural feeling to want to flee the scene of an accident if we feel that we have done something wrong. However, it should come to no surprise to anyone, that by fleeing the scene, you open yourself up to some serious ramifications later on. If you do make the mistake of leaving the scene, it’s imperative that you speak to the most qualified hit and run lawyers and hit and run attorneys available to you. Doing so will help reduce jail time, as well as fines.
What exactly is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run is basically defined as an accident involving a vehicle, with either another vehicle, pedestrian or fixed object, with the vehicle leaving the scene without stopped to render aid, or to identify yourself. Some states also class hitting an animal and not stopping, as a hit and run.
It’s important to understand the hit and run investigation process, by the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter whether you caused the accident or not. If a vehicle crashed into the side of your car, but you drove away instantly, you would be charged for a hit and run. However, if you have left to gain access to emergency services, or to get cellphone reception, you won’t be charged, as long as you return to the scene as soon as you can.
Hit and runs don’t require that they take place on main highways or public roads. Scrapes and knocks in a parking lot are also under the same law. If you back up into another vehicle, it’s imperative that you leave a note with your contact details on, regardless of whether you think the damage is minor or not. Whether someone wishes to claim is not up to you to decide, even if you think the damage is so minor that it isn’t worth writing a note for. While that may be the case, not leaving your contact details is an arrestable offense.
The penalties for hit and run allegations can vary. Depending on the circumstances, the penalties will be processed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. To be charged with a felony hit and run, someone would have left the scene of the accident, where an injury has taken place. That could be a bystander or someone in the other vehicle. The penalties for these types of hit and run incidents are quite severe, as you can imagine. Incarceration is often the final result for these type of accidents, as well as fines up to $20,000. Prison sentences for up to 15 years have been seen for felony hit and run incidents, but of course, these are for truly horrific events.
Hit and runs can also be classified as misdemeanors, rather than a felony. A misdemeanor hit and run sounds a lot less serious by name, but can still grant up to a year’s worth of jail time, as well as up to $5,000 in fines.
Additional penalties for leaving a car accident scene
On top of any criminal penalties that are deemed necessary by the courts, you’ll also have administrative penalties imposed onto your driver’s license. These type of fees will be imposed by your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Regardless of whether the hit and run has been classified as a misdemeanor or felony, you’ll likely find that you will receive an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, for at least six months. In some scenarios, you could have your license revoked for up to three years. If your accident has caused serious harm and damage, with the addition of you leaving the scene, you may find that you get permanently banned for life. This is usually for those who end up getting double digit jail time.
Potential civil penalties for hit and runs
If you were the one that caused the accident, it’s very likely that the other person involved will try and sue you in court for the physical and mental damages they have suffered. These lawsuits will typically ask for compensations to cover medical bills, property damage and loss of earnings due to being injured. These lawsuits are generally not specific to hit and run incidents though, and will occur regardless of whether someone left the scene or not. If you are found to have caused the accident, as well as committed a hit and run act, then the courts will likely order you to pay even more compensation. Treble damages is the usual go-to punishment in this case, where the defendant has to pay triple of whatever value is deemed appropriate. Treble damages are usually never covered by your own insurance provider, due to the hit and run element of the court case. In other words, this money is going to be coming from your pocket.
Dealing with your insurance company
In addition to all the other charges and penalties we’ve already spoken about, you’ll find that most insurance companies will cancel your vehicle insurance as soon as they hear the words “guilty” and “hit and run.”. It will make it very difficult to get insurance again, and if you do, the premiums you’ll have to pay will be incredibly high.
Do you require help from a hit and run attorney for your charge?
As we’ve previously elaborated on, leaving the scene of an accident is a big deal, and is treated as if you were to leave the scene of a crime, unless you have a very good defense. However, each case will be different, as well as the circumstances involved. If you do leave, there must be a genuinely legitimate reason as to why you didn’t stick around. It would be best to call up a hit and run attorney and explain your situation. Many people do not know what to do exactly when they have been in a hit and run accident. This is where a hit and run lawyer can help and help the victims.
Any driver who fails to fulfill their duties after being involved in an accident can receive a traffic ticket, at a minimum. In some cases, especially when an accident causes injury or death, a driver who leaves the scene of an accident can be subject to serious criminal charges such as “felony hit and run.” As with most legal issues, it really depends on the facts of the individual case. Speaking to a criminal law attorney, who marks themselves as a hit and run attorney, is your bet at securing a valid defense.