Whenever a car accident occurs, it is important to wait for law enforcement to arrive before leaving the scene. Not only does remaining at the scene help ensure that you do not receive unnecessary criminal charges for fleeing, it may also help your case if the other party files a property damage or injury claim. While you may think that you are to blame for the accident, the evidence may tell a different story.
While the laws that govern leaving the scene of an accident change from state to state, it is wise to have a solid understanding of how leaving an accident scene may play out. If you already received charges after leaving and accident scene, this can help you effectively defend your rights and keep yourself protected as you resolve the matter.
Leaving a property damage accident
If no one received physical injuries in an accident and there is only property damage, leaving the scene typically may result in misdemeanor hit-and-run charges. While this is not as bad as it might be if injuries occurred, these charges often result in hefty fines and may even carry jail time.
Some accident scenes where one might experience a small fender bender, such as a big-box-store parking lot, present an interesting dilemma. Depending on the municipal laws of the city, police officers may not respond to a small collision in a private lot. Before leaving such an area, make sure that you contact the relevant police department and receive confirmation that no officer is coming to the scene and that you are free to go. If you have further concerns, do not hesitate to speak with an attorney.
Leaving the scene of an injury accident
Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in injuries is much more serious. In most cases, this is a felony and may result in serious charges. If you choose to leave, it is very likely that the police will issue felony charges against you and a warrant for your arrest.
Leaving the scene of an accident that results in the death of a person is a felony in every single state, not to mention the possibility of charges resulting from the death itself. If you choose to flee the scene after a fatal accident, you may face a number of compounding felony charges, including the hit-and-run felony charge and other charges such as vehicular manslaughter.
Protect your rights immediately
Car accidents can change the trajectory of your entire life in an instant. If you find yourself in a complicated accident, especially if it involves significant property damage or injuries, then you must build a strong legal strategy as soon as possible. A strong legal defense helps you assess the charges against you and keeps your rights secure.