A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver involved in a collision with another vehicle, pedestrian, or property, fails to stop and provide information or aid to the injured party. This type of accident can have serious consequences for all involved, including the driver who fled the scene.
In many cases, hit-and-run accidents result in severe injuries or even fatalities. Victims may suffer physical, emotional, and financial damages, and the driver who fled the scene can face criminal charges, fines, and even imprisonment. Additionally, fleeing the scene of an accident can result in a driver’s license suspension or revocation, increased insurance rates, and a tarnished reputation.
In this post, Eastcoastlaws.com will explore the consequences of a hit-and-run accident in more detail. We will examine the legal and financial repercussions for the driver, the emotional and physical impact on victims and their families, and the steps that can be taken to prevent hit-and-run accidents from occurring in the first place. By the end of this article, readers will have a better understanding of the serious consequences that can result from a hit-and-run accident and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions on the road.
What Is A Hit And Run Car Accident?
A hit-and-run often occurs when a driver is engaged in a car collision (either with a pedestrian, another vehicle, or a fixed object) and then leaves the scene without pausing to provide assistance to anyone who may be in need. Any collision with an animal is also included in the definition of “hit and run” in at least a few states.
Whether or not you were at fault for the car accident depends on the state. Just leaving the site constitutes a crime. Most states do not consider it to be a hit and run as long as you quickly return to the accident scene if you have to leave the scene of an accident to get emergency help—for example, by leaving a rural mobile phone “dead area” to get a signal.
The majority of states do not mandate that a hit-and-run incident take place on a highway or public route. In many states, collisions in parking lots are covered by hit-and-run statutes. For instance, many states see it as a hit-and-run if you reverse into an empty car in a parking lot and don’t leave a note with your contact information on the windshield.
Criminal Penalties For Leaving The Scene Of A Car Accident
States have different laws governing hit-and-run offenses. Depending on the circumstances, a hit-and-run offense can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Most states define felony hit-and-run as leaving the scene of an accident involving any kind of injury to a person, whether the injured party is a pedestrian or a driver or passenger of a vehicle.
The consequences for hit-and-run crimes can be very harsh. The average state penalty ranges from $5,000 to $20,000. A hit-and-run crime carries a very real risk of imprisonment as a penalty. Some states have felony hit-and-run penalties of up to 15 years in jail, depending on the accident’s circumstances and the injuries it caused.
Keep in mind that a hit-and-run may not be considered a felony at all. In most states, misdemeanors are punishable by a hefty fine of up to $5,000 as well as up to one year in jail, despite the fact that the name “misdemeanor” may sound rather trivial to some people.
Administrative Penalties For Leaving The Scene Of A Car Accident
Nearly all states apply administrative penalties relating to your driver’s license in addition to the criminal sanctions for hit-and-runs. The Department of Motor Vehicles in each state frequently administers these sanctions.
The automatic suspension or revocation of your driver’s license for a period of about six months follows any conviction for hit and run, regardless of whether it was for a crime or misdemeanor. The revocation may last up to three years in some states. The punishment for hit and run may include a lifetime license revocation, depending on your state of residence, the specifics of the car accident you were engaged in, and other factors. These administrative sanctions are in addition to any possible criminal consequences for hit-and-run.
Civil Penalties For Hit And Run
Another party involved in the collision may sue you in court for their losses if you are found to be at fault for the collision. A claim for financial compensation for medical expenses missed wages, and property damage might be made in such a lawsuit.
Of course, if you are found to be at blame for the car accident, this kind of litigation is likely to occur even if you did not leave the scene of the accident. But the damages that a court requires you to pay will almost certainly increase if you are also responsible for a hit-and-run accident in addition to having caused the accident. In a civil action, certain states would demand “treble damages” or punitive penalties from a hit-and-run driver.
Punitive damages are granted in court to the plaintiff, the party that was harmed, but they are not intended to compensate the plaintiff for their losses. Instead, they’re intended to penalize a defendant for engaging in especially risky or egregious behavior. Undoubtedly, a hit-and-run would qualify. Find out more about punitive damages in incidents involving auto accidents.
Where a statute calls for or permits it, the plaintiff’s threefold damages are tripled. For instance, a statute governing civil penalties for hit-and-run may permit the court to automatically increase a jury’s $10,000 verdict into $30,000 since the hit-and-run constitutes extremely careless and heinous behavior.
Punitive and triple damages are typically not covered by your auto insurance policy. To put it another way, you will be responsible for paying that sum yourself.
How A Hit And Run Affects Car Insurance
A hit-and-run accident can have significant implications for car insurance, as it involves a driver fleeing the scene of an accident without providing their contact and insurance information. This means that the victim of the hit-and-run may be left with property damage, personal injury, or both, without any means of seeking compensation from the other driver.
In such cases, the victim’s car insurance policy may come into play. If the victim has collision coverage, they may be able to file a claim with their own insurance company for the cost of repairs or replacement of their vehicle, subject to their deductible. If the victim has uninsured motorist coverage, they may also be able to make a claim for any bodily injury sustained in the accident.
However, filing a hit-and-run claim can have consequences for the victim’s car insurance premiums. Depending on the insurance company and the specifics of the accident, the victim’s insurance rates may increase following the claim, even if they were not at fault for the accident. In some cases, the insurance company may also classify the hit and run as an “at-fault” accident, which can result in even higher premiums or cancellation of the policy.
In order to minimize the impact of a hit-and-run on car insurance, victims should report the incident to the police and their insurance company as soon as possible. They should also provide any evidence or witness statements that may help identify the other driver, as this can increase the chances of the hit-and-run driver being caught and held responsible for their actions.
Emotional And Psychological Consequences Of A Hit-And-Run Accident
Hit-and-run accidents can have significant emotional and psychological consequences for victims, witnesses, and even the driver who fled the scene. Here are some subtopics that can be covered:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Victims of hit-and-run accidents can develop PTSD, a mental health disorder that can cause nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety. The fear of being in a similar situation again can lead to avoidance behavior, which can impact the victim’s daily life.
- Anxiety and Depression: Victims of hit-and-run accidents may also experience anxiety and depression, which can impact their ability to function normally. The stress of dealing with the aftermath of the accident, including medical bills, legal proceedings, and physical injuries, can exacerbate these mental health conditions.
- Loss of Trust: Victims of hit-and-run accidents may lose trust in others, especially strangers. The feeling of betrayal from someone who caused them harm and then fled the scene can cause long-lasting emotional distress and affect their ability to form new relationships.
- Guilt and Self-Blame: Victims of hit-and-run accidents may feel guilty and blame themselves for the accident, even if they were not at fault. This can lead to feelings of shame and low self-esteem, which can impact their mental health.
- Anger and Resentment: Victims of hit-and-run accidents may also feel angry and resentful towards the driver who fled the scene, as well as towards the legal system, which may not provide adequate justice or compensation for their injuries.
- Impact on Family and Relationships: Hit-and-run accidents can also impact the victim’s family and relationships. Loved ones may feel helpless or guilty for not being able to prevent the accident, and the victim’s injuries can strain their relationships and create financial burdens.
Overall, hit-and-run accidents can have lasting emotional and psychological consequences for victims, which can impact their quality of life and require professional help to overcome.
Getting Help After A Hit And Run
If you left the scene of your automobile accident and are prepared to speak with a legal expert, you might want to start by contacting a car accident attorney in your neighborhood. A car accident lawyer can always suggest the best course of action if your case would be better off in the hands of a different kind of attorney (one who focuses on criminal defense, for example).