Hit and Run: What Can Happen if You Leave the Scene of an Accident

“DO THE RIGHT THING”

by Contributor

(May 14, 2019) — Leaving the scene of an accident is never a good idea. Keep reading for hit and run: what can happen if you leave the scene of an accident.

According to the World Health Organization, road traffic deaths have reached as high as 1.35 million, and traffic injuries are the lead killer of people aged 5 to 29.

Unfortunately, innocent people like cyclists and pedestrians bear this burden. Traffic-related deaths have become the eighth leading cause of death for all ages, going even ahead of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Hit and run fatalities occur almost six times a day in the US, and the number continues to grow in recent years. In 2015 America, hit and run incidences were more than 2000 times a day.

Hit and run offenses contribute to the suffering of the economic and social burdens in an injury and can increase the severity of outcomes because of the delay of treatment.

What you should know is that hit and run violations are criminal offenses. They create legal burdens, as well as problems with insurance. It is not a good idea to flee the scene after an accident.

A driver involved in an accident should stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close as possible. Otherwise, you could face the legal consequences for a hit and run.

Consequences for a Hit and Run

The strongest instinct when one is in a car accident is to leave, especially if you’re feeling guilty. A hit and run refers to a situation where you are involved in a car accident with a pedestrian and another car or a fixed object. Some states include the collision with an animal in the same category. Others include parking lot collisions as well.

All of these items have a legal effect. However, the extent of the legal consequences depends on the extent of the accident.

Fines for a Misdemeanour Hit and Run

In many states, a hit and run refers to when you cause an accident and leave the scene of an accident resulting in property damage. This means that you did not cause injury on a bystander or pedestrian. This act is a minor criminal offense and consequences include fines and penalties.

In many states, misdemeanor cases result in financial consequences of significant fines of up to $5000 give or take, and even a possible jail term of up to a year.

The fact is that the criminal justice system would be overwhelmed if every time there was a minor breach of the law, the case went to a full criminal trial.

Therefore, most states treat less egregious traffic violations as misdemeanors. In fact, some minor traffic offenses are less severe and are considered civil infractions.

Misdemeanors are less serious traffic offenses and are punishable by a fine or incarceration for a period of less than a year. If as a driver, you collide with an unattended vehicle or a stationary object, the law requires that you make reasonable effort to identify the property owner and let them know what has happened.

Instead of fleeing the scene, take the registration number of the parked car which has suffered any damage. In addition, leave a written notice with your contact information if you have destroyed property. At any point, you should not consider leaving the scene. However, you can avoid all these problems by not using your cell phone when driving, which could cause you to become just another statistic.

Possible Jail-term for a Felony Hit and Run

Most states define a felony hit and run as a case where you leave the scene of an accident if the incident includes injury to a person or even death. The definition includes the injury of both a pedestrian and the occupant of the vehicle. In such a case, the fines can be quite high and a chance of incarceration as a penalty for the act.

If a person dies due to the hit and run, then it is automatically a felony in all states. A felony is the highest and most serious class of criminal offenses. They include crimes whose punishment can include imprisonment of more than a year.

Unlike misdemeanors where one can serve a term in the county jail, if the court finds you guilty of the act, you will serve your sentence in a state penitentiary jail. You are in the same category as rapists and kidnappers.

Unfortunately, there are about 6 million car collisions every year, resulting in three million injuries annually. A person involved in this kind of incidence will need to call the best personal injuries attorney to represent them in the personal injury case.

While involvement in a personal injury case might be expensive if you stop at the scene to help the injured victim, it is much better than taking your chances in a criminal court where you have a chance of going to jail.

The consequences if you stop to help the victim are friendlier than facing criminal indictment because you fled the scene. Having a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney on your side can help you get your insurance to cater for damages.

Possible Deportation for a Felony

If you are a migrant and have a hit and run, you could land in some serious trouble. It is best if you stay on the scene, help the injured person, and prepare yourself for the case ahead.

A felony conviction could be the one thing that determines the fate of your stay in the country. Therefore, if you are a migrant and you find yourself in an accident, it is best to arm yourself with an excellent traffic defense attorney to protect yourself.

The consequences of a felony hit and run will likely result in your deportation.

Administrative Penalties for a Hit and Run

In addition to the criminal penalties you stand to face for a hit and run, and nearly all states impose severe administrative penalties regarding your driver’s license. Usually, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) imposes these penalties.

A conviction for a hit and run, whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor, will automatically lead to the DMV suspending your driver’s license. If the case is severe, they have the mandate to revoke your driver’s license for six months give or take. In some states, the revocation can last up to 3 years.

You can avoid the inconvenience of not having your driver’ license for six months by stopping when you are involved in a car accident.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accidents, and the nature of the same, a hit and run administrative penalty can include a lifetime revocation of a driver’s license.

You should note that these administrative consequences are all in addition to the criminal punishment you will receive for being in a hit and run accident. Of course, you will not miss your driver’s license when in jail so it would be wise to avoid a hit and run accident.

A Warrant for Your Arrest

If you decide to run instead of staying to help the victim or even report the accident to the traffic police officers, you are in legal trouble.

When the police officer arrives at the scene of the accident, a lengthy and thorough investigation will take place. It will involve an inspection of available surveillance, and interviewing of witnesses.

If the police officers determine that you are guilty, they will issue a warrant for your arrest and immediately proceed to locate you. If you are at your place of work, imagine the embarrassment as you are taken in handcuffed. To avoid instances of later being arrested in front of your family or friends or even having an arrest record, do the right thing and do not consider leaving the scene of an accident.

Regardless of who you are and how lightly you may take traffic offenses, you will be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony hit and run.

Insurance

Insurance companies are also an essential stakeholder in matters dealing with traffic offenses. If your insurer sees that you have been charged and found guilty of a hit and run, they could also take action. Their action is in the form of entirely canceling your automobile policy for being guilty of a hit and run.

If this is the case, and you have a permanent record of hit and runs, good luck finding another insurance company to cover your vehicle. You might as well have lost your car ownership privileges.

Additionally, if they do not cancel it, your premiums could be rendered so high that you won’t afford to own that car.   It is rare to find a case where a person can escape a hit and run without an arrest and a charge.

The Legal Consequences of a Hit and Run Are Life-Changing and Justified

It is normal to find yourself in a traffic accident at one point or another. However, as a responsible citizen, you have to do the right thing and report the incident to a police station.

If ever you are in a traffic accident, hire a traffic defense attorney to defend yourself. Preferably, consider one who has experience with insurance-related cases.

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