Getting into a car accident is an extremely stressful event, one that can leave all parties involved scrambling on what to do next. At times, some panic so much that they may flee an incident before exchanging information with the other parties involved. Even in the context of being afraid, though, there are serious repercussions for leaving the scene of an accident so swiftly. Unfortunately, a ticket isn’t the worst of possibilities – in many cases, you may face steep fines or even jail time. By keeping these consequences in mind, you’ll be better prepared to stop yourself from fleeing the scene, even during moments of panic.
Hit-and-Run Car Accidents
If you were to leave the scene of an accident before exchanging information with the other parties involved, this would be considered a hit-and-run. Hit-and-run collisions are not to be taken lightly and can come with serious repercussions. To be clear, the key component of what defines a hit-and-run incident is the driver’s negligence to provide personal information about themselves (including insurance information) following the collision.
If you hit a parked car or another object and there were no witnesses present, including the owner of the object or vehicle, instead of leaving, your best option is to leave your personal information written down for the owner to find later. Along with the provision of your personal information, you will also need to file a police report to appropriately document the collision and acquire a third-party, detailed report on the events.
In any case, you must always be aware of the laws presiding over the area in which you are driving, as this will directly influence the potential consequences you may face from fleeing an incident in that locality. For instance, in California, hit-and-runs are considered to be either misdemeanors or felonies. For a hit-and-run to qualify as a misdemeanor, property that is valued below a certain threshold must have been damaged in the collision. For a felony charge, an individual must have been either injured or killed in the incident. (Of course, several more compounding factors can change the outcomes of hit-and-run cases, but these are some of the primary determining factors.)
Seek the Protection of a Lawyer
If you have recently fled the scene of an accident without having given your information to the other parties involved or filed a police report documenting the collision, you are at risk of facing severe legal consequences. Even misdemeanors could result in up to a full year of jail time, whereas felony charges for hit-and-run accidents can cost you up to $10,000 in fines, in addition to other legal and compensatory fees.
You will need the help of an expert accident attorney. They will be able to thoroughly investigate your case and provide arguments in defense of your reasoning for fleeing. For example, you may have been unaware that you struck the other vehicle at the time, or you may have even been threatened by the other parties involved. No matter what the reason, an attorney will protect you and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the duration of your case. Get in contact with an attorney to secure your defense today.