Most of us believe we would never consider leaving the scene of an accident. Whether we had a collision with another automobile or a pedestrian stepped right out in front of us, we will stay at the scene of the accident until the authorities arrive. We will call for medical help, and we will do everything in our power to give aid to injured people.
Many people run away from the scene of an accident. Panic and fear invade their minds, and the horrors they see in the aftermath of the collision sometimes puts the driver in flight mode. Other times, the driver is running simply to save their own skin. Maybe they have been in too many accidents before, and this one may be their last strike. Maybe, they are in a place they should not be, or they are driving someone else’s car or a company car without permission. None of these explanations or excuses are good enough to leave an injured person at the scene of an accident.
A hit and run accident in California is against the law. There are consequences for committing a hit and run, and the state takes these cases very seriously. It does not matter if the accident is your fault or the other party was responsible. The law applies to both of you. If you must leave to get help, the courts will have leniency. For example, if you cannot get a cell phone signal and you go up the road a bit for a better signal or to a nearby house to ask them to call for help. That would not be considered a hit and run. But in each of these situations, you must return to the scene immediately.
Legal Consequences of a Hit and Run
If you leave the scene of an accident and there is any injury, the charge is felony hit and run. It does not matter if the victim was an occupant of an automobile or a pedestrian. If you are involved in an accident where a person is injured, and you flee, it is a felony charge. The victim also has the right to contact a car accident attorney and recover compensation from you for his or her injuries.
In California, you must leave your contact information if there is any property damage or injury. It does not matter if the other person was at fault. The law says you must stop and provide your contact information.
If you believe there was no damage or injury to the other party, you can still face felony hit and run charges if your own passenger was injured and you failed to stop and give your contact information to the other driver. Most people do not understand this. The general rule is that you must stop and exchange contact information regardless of who was injured or what was damaged or who was at fault. Just do it.
You can still face misdemeanor hit and run charges even if there were no injuries and no damage to the automobiles. This would come into play when the accident damaged someone else’s property. This includes fences, mailboxes, and landscapes.
Penalties for a hit and run accident in which someone was injured include fines from $1,000 to $10,000 and jail time of up to 4-years in state prison.
Penalties for a hit and run accident where there was only property damage include fines up to $1,000 and up to 6-months in the county jail.
If you have been injured in a hit and run, contact a car accident attorney today.