Car accidents can be overwhelming. Injuries and physical damage aside, the emotional weight of being involved in a traumatic accident can be incredibly stressful. In such situations, it’s easy to forget that there are steps that must be taken before leaving the scene of the wreck. When a person’s fight-or-flight instincts kick in, they must find the strength to battle through their urge to flee and instead, obey the law and remain on site. Regardless of how scary or stressful an accident might be, never, ever leave the scene of a car crash without taking a few important steps.
Why? For one, there are legal obligations of those involved in the accident. Beyond the legal requirement to stay, there’s also a moral one: checking to see if others involved in the wreck are okay is the least a person can do. Providing basic assistance and calling an ambulance for an accident victim doesn’t take much but can make the difference between life and death. Keep reading to learn about what steps to take after being involved in a wreck and why fleeing is the worst thing a person can do.
Legal Obligations at the Scene
If you’ve never been involved in a wreck before, it can be hard to know what to do when faced with one. There are several legal obligations required of people involved in accidents, the first of which is to remain at the scene. Regardless of how serious the incident is or whether it was a single vehicle accident, it’s important to stop, get out of your car and inspect the damage done. Drivers are also required to offer assistance and give aid to anyone who might need it.
After calling an ambulance and reporting the incident to the police, drivers must offer their name, license plate details and insurance information to the other motorists or pedestrians involved in the collision. If they are driving a car they do not own themselves, drivers need to also offer the contact information of the owner. Only after taking these steps should a person consider leaving the scene. It’s best to confirm with police that you are free to go before leaving.
Penalties for Hit and Run Accidents
Make no mistake, leaving the scene of a wreck without taking the aforementioned steps means committing a hit and run. At minimum, the driver faces a traffic ticket. If the incident caused injuries or damage, though, they can be subject to expensive fines and even jail time. In the eyes of the law, leaving the scene of an accident where someone was injured or killed is considered a felony. Regardless of fault, staying at the scene is the right thing to do from both a legal and a moral standpoint.
Flee the scene of a wreck and you make a bad situation far worse. Given the technology available in our times, it’s only a matter of time before police pull footage from local security cameras to determine your license plate information. Even if you initially “get away” with your crime, you will constantly be looking over your shoulder, waiting for police to arrive.
Things only get worse when police finally arrest you for your hit and run. A minor crash that may not have even been the driver’s fault is suddenly cause for felony charges. Staying on scene might result in a ticket or a hit to your insurance, but a hit and run can result in costly fines, time behind bars and even the loss of your license.
There is also the liability aspect to consider. If you caused a wreck and flee the scene without offering assistance to those injured in the collision, you could be sued for negligence. Victims of hit and run accidents can pursue compensation for their medical bills, their vehicle repair costs and even intangible damage like the pain and suffering they endured because of your actions. Such lawsuits frequently result in expensive settlements which you’ll be ordered to pay by a judge if you acted negligently.
Of course, there are the social ramifications of fleeing the scene of a car accident to consider, too. Hit and run drivers may make the local news, with their mugshot displayed for all to see. They may become alienated by their friend group or face backlash in their professional life. There is no limit to the social consequences of fleeing the scene of a wreck.
Get the Legal Help You Need
It’s always better to stay on scene after a collision, even if the legal consequences of doing so seem dire. Lawsuit Info Center can help you connect with an experienced car accident attorney in your time of need. For a free accident consultation, simply fill out this form and one of our team members will be in touch shortly.