A hit and run accident occurs when a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident (either with another car, fixed object, or pedestrian) leaves the scene of the accident without stopping to render aid and or give information as required by state traffic laws.
By leaving the scene of an accident, a driver forfeits any chance of compensation and may face criminal charges. Criminal charges are typically waived, however, if you leave a scene to access or notify emergency assistance, but return immediately afterwards.
Consequences for leaving the scene of an accident
Depending upon the circumstances, leaving the scene of an accident may be deemed either a misdemeanor or felony; criminal penalties for either category vary by state. In addition to public roads and highways, some states apply hit and run laws to animals or parking lots as well.
Penalties for hit and run can be severe. Monetary fines range from $5,000 to $20,000 and often include a suspension of driving privileges for six months to 3 years. Depending upon the nature of the accident, time in jail may be required for either a misdemeanor or a felony. But it doesn’t end there for hit and run drivers.
When found liable for an accident, a hit and run driver may be sued for damages suffered by the victims, which may include medical bills, lost wages and property damage. As a method to dissuade the practice of hit and run, many states impose “treble damages” on hit and run drivers, which means that any damages awarded to the plaintiff are automatically tripled.
Special considerations for hit and run accidents
What to do when your are the victim of a hit and run?
First, look for potential witnesses and gather contact information if possible. Next, call your insurance company. If property was damaged or stolen or injuries occurred, call the police. This applies whether you were present during the accident or not.
What happens when a hit and run involves an uninsured motorist?
Uninsured Motorists Coverage only covers injuries to you and your passengers when hit by an uninsured driver (or hit and run driver). If you don’t have collision coverage, you’ll be responsible for covering any damages to your car. If you do have collision coverage, insurance companies generally do not surcharge for that type of claim.
Get legal help when you need it
Key to resolving a hit and run incident are evidence and witnesses. If you’d like to learn more about your claim, take a moment to set up a free consultation with a legal professional. A qualified motor vehicle accidents lawyer can help you determine immediate next steps to protect your legal rights and seek a fair settlement claim for your injuries or property damage.
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