Most people who flee the scene of an accident do so because they are scared. Sometimes it is instinctual to want to flee when people are faced with chaotic situations. This is especially true if the person who flees is driving without a valid license or car insurance, or was perhaps drinking.
If a person leaves the scene of an accident, even if he or she is not at fault, the person may face criminal charges; especially if someone was injured in the accident. Unfortunately, leaving the scene of an accident can have the following consequences:
In most states, California included, it ends up being a misdemeanor hit-and-run if someone leaves the scene of an accident that results in property damage. A misdemeanor usually involves a fine of $1,000 and possible jail time of up to a year.
If the accident involves injuries to others – driver, passenger, or pedestrian – the punishment may be more severe. The penalty for a felony hit-and-run vary from state to state, but likely those who flee the scene of an accident where injuries were involved will likely involve incarceration and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
It is a felony in all states if someone leaves the scene of an accident where someone was killed.
Process After Defendant Leaves the Scene
If someone makes the mistake of fleeing the scene after an accident, there are ways for him or her to mitigate the damage and face the consequences of their actions. A police officer will arrive on the scene and will conduct their investigation. This may include you as well as any witnesses who saw the accident. Police officers will look for footage of the accident, such as traffic light cameras, or cameras from nearby businesses. Any evidence that is available will help in trying to find the person who fled the scene. With all of the information provided by you and any witnesses, the police will then start an active search for the other driver.
The officer may issue a warrant for the arrest of the person who fled the scene and criminal charges may be filed. The officers may ask for the other driver to turn themselves in – it will sound much better to a judge or jury that the driver took responsibility for their actions. Even if there are no criminal charges filed against the person who leaves the scene of an accident, as the injured party, you may pursue a civil claim for any damages that you have sustained from the negligence of the other driver. The judge and/or jury may conclude that the other person’s fleeing from the scene as an admission of some guilt.
Even if the other parties flee, you should still report your accident as well as any injuries to the police and your insurance agent. You will not face any penalty for filing a report with the police or with your insurance company. There is a good chance that the other driver will be found and brought in.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another who fled the scene, please to not hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Silverthorne Attorneys. Consultations are free!