What do I do if the driver leaves the scene?
People who leave the scene of an accident are scared because they don’t have a license or valid insurance. The fleeing party might have been drinking or have an illegal substance in the car too. Leaving the scene of the accident doesn’t mean they can’t be found and held responsible for the accident, damages and injuries. Once they leave the scene of the accident, they might be held responsible for damages even if they weren’t at fault. It could also lead to serious criminal charges.
Legal Responsibility after a Car Accident
After being involved in a car accident, both parties are required to stay and exchange identification and insurance information as well as vehicle registration number. You’ll want to get the details of the driver and passengers in the other vehicle.
You’re required to contact local law enforcement to alert them to the accident. They might not send a police cruiser to respond to the accident if there haven’t been injuries or serious damage. If the police don’t respond, you’ll be required to go to the police station and file your own report for the insurance company.
In an accident with no people present, the driver is required to leave contact information and an explanation where it can be found by the owner of the vehicle or property that was damaged.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene
Car Accident with No Injuries
Following a car accident with no injuries where the other driver speeds away, you’ll want to immediately make note of the type of vehicle and license plate number.
It can be difficult to capture all this information when you’re still reeling from the accident itself. If the driver pulls away and seems to be stopping but flees, you might not catch any of that information at all.
Call the Police
When the other driver leaves the scene of the accident without exchanging information, you’ll need to contact the police immediately. Give a description of the vehicle as well as the license plate number if you can.
Consequences for the Remaining Driver
If you don’t contact the police after a hit-and-run, it’s likely that the insurance company will deny your claim. You’ll end up spending money out of your own pocket for car repairs and missing work without compensation. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you could spend thousands on medical bills too.
Next Steps by the Police
Once you call the police, they’ll investigate the accident. They may put out a warrant for the person driving the vehicle if they can learn who it was. If there’s been serious injuries in the accident, they’ll do everything they can to arrest the fleeing driver.
Misdemeanor Hit-and-Run Accident
An personal injury attorney will need to be contacted for those who are arrested for leaving the scene of an accident. In , a person who fails to exchange information after an accident will be charged with a class B misdemeanor, which comes with fines or jail time of up to 90 days.
For those who leave the scene of an accident where there have been serious injuries and even death, it can lead to felony charges and lengthy jail time for the offender.
Contacting Your Insurance Company
In some cases, your insurance company might have a provision in your policy that says you must contact the police after an accident involving a hit-and-run driver. When you contact the insurance company after an accident, you’ll need that police report to take advantage of your uninsured motorist benefits.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The amount of coverage in will depend on the victim’s insurance policy. The at-fault driver’s insurance policy is supposed to pay for the injuries and repairs, but if the driver flees the scene, that can’t happen. Instead, your insurance policy will have to cover the damages. For that to happen, you’ll need to have purchased uninsured motorist coverage for your policy.
The insurance company might deny your claim if they feel you didn’t provide enough proof that there was physical contact by another vehicle and the driver fled. You can contact an personal injury attorney to help you deal with a reluctant insurance company that has denied your claim.