Car accidents can happen to anyone at any time, and they often leave those involved shaken and unsure of what to do next. In the state of New York, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it is a serious offense that can result in legal consequences. Whether it’s a minor fender-bender or a more serious collision, drivers have a responsibility to stay at the scene of the accident and provide information to the other parties involved.
In this post, Eastcoastlaws.com will discuss what leaving the scene of an accident means in New York, the potential penalties for doing so, and what steps you should take if you find yourself in this situation. Understanding the law and your obligations as a driver can help you make informed decisions and avoid legal trouble.
What Is Leaving The Scene Of An Accident In New York?
Leaving the scene of an accident in New York is a criminal offense that occurs when a driver involved in an accident fails to stop, identify themselves, and provide aid or assistance to anyone who was injured in the accident. This offense is also commonly known as a hit-and-run accident.
Under New York law, drivers involved in an accident are required to stop their vehicle as soon as possible, remain at the scene, and provide their name, address, insurance information, and vehicle registration number to the other parties involved in the accident, as well as to law enforcement officers who respond to the scene.
In addition to providing information, drivers are also required to provide reasonable assistance to anyone who is injured in the accident. This may include calling for emergency medical assistance or helping injured parties to receive medical attention.
Failure to stop and provide this information, or to render aid to those who are injured, is considered a serious offense under New York law. Depending on the severity of the accident and any resulting injuries or property damage, leaving the scene of an accident can result in criminal charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony, and may carry significant fines, license suspension, and even jail time.
It’s worth noting that New York law also requires drivers to report any accident involving property damage or personal injury to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident, even if they have already provided their information at the scene of the accident.
Leaving The Scene: Property Damage
According to New York VTL 600(1)(a), the first is leaving the scene of an accident if there was simply property damage. If a person is involved in an accident and knows or should have known that another person’s property has been damaged, such as damage to their own vehicle, and does not stop, display their license and insurance card, provide their real name and address, or report the incident to the local police station if the owner of the property is not present, such as in the case of an accident involving a parked car, they may be arrested, charged, and found guilty under this law.
VTL 600(1), in contrast to other provisions of this law, is a traffic infraction rather than a felony. Therefore, even though you won’t have a criminal record after a conviction, you could still be subject to a $250 fine and up to 15 days in jail.
Leaving The Scene: Personal Injury
According to New York VTL 600(2)(a), the second category—leaving the scene of an accident where a person was injured—is much more serious and has potentially fatal consequences. If you knew or should have known that another person had suffered personal injury as a result of the accident and you did not stop, produce your driver’s license and insurance card, provide your real name and address, and report the incident to a police officer or the local police station, that is the basis for a VTL 600(2)(a) arrest, charge, and conviction. In contrast to VTL 600(1), breaking this legislation will result in a conviction and a criminal record.
If the failure to give the requested information is the only reason for the violation, it is a B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $250 to $500 and/or a jail term of up to 90 days. A second conviction for failing to submit information may be upgraded to an A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $1000 and a maximum jail sentence of one year. Even though it is a first offense, it is A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and up to 1 year in jail if the violation is based on something other than failing to submit information, including failing to stop and remain at the site.
Importantly, if a VTL 600(2)(a) allegation is founded on failing to stop and take all necessary actions and the person who was wounded sustained “serious injury,” this crime may be escalated to an E felony and punished by a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 or even up to four years in state prison. If there was a fatality in the collision, it might be upgraded to a D felony, which carries a $2000 to $5000 fine and a maximum sentence of 7 years in state prison.
Defenses For Leaving The Scene Of An Accident In New York
While leaving the scene of an accident in New York is a serious offense, there are several defenses that may be used in certain situations. Here are some of the common defenses used in leaving the scene of accident cases:
- Lack of knowledge: One possible defense is that the driver was not aware that an accident had occurred. For example, if the accident was very minor and the driver did not feel an impact, they may have genuinely believed that they did not hit anything or anyone.
- Duress: Another possible defense is that the driver left the scene of the accident because they were under duress. For example, if the driver was threatened with violence or believed that they were in danger, they may have left the scene to protect themselves.
- Mistaken identity: It’s possible that the driver who left the scene of the accident was not actually the person responsible for the collision. If the driver can provide evidence that they were not involved in the accident, such as witness testimony or surveillance footage, this may be a valid defense.
- Medical emergency: In some cases, a driver may leave the scene of an accident due to a medical emergency. For example, if the driver was experiencing a heart attack or other medical issue that required immediate attention, they may have left the scene to seek medical assistance.
It’s important to note that these defenses may not be applicable in all cases, and it’s up to the driver to provide evidence to support their defense. Additionally, it’s always best to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges for leaving the scene of an accident in New York.
Hit-and-Run Accidents in New York: What to Do
Hit-and-run accidents in New York can be a frightening experience, but it’s important to stay calm and take the right steps to protect yourself. If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, first make sure to check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. Then, try to remember as much information about the other vehicle as possible, including the make, model, and license plate number. If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their contact information.
Next, call 911 to report the accident and provide the information you have. It’s also a good idea to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, this can help cover any damages or injuries.
Lastly, it’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process and get the compensation you deserve. With their help, you can hold the responsible party accountable and get the help you need to recover from the accident.
Hit-and-Run Accidents in New York: Victims’ Rights
Victims of hit-and-run accidents in New York have certain rights under the law. These include the right to:
- Seek medical attention: Victims of hit-and-run accidents should seek medical attention immediately, even if they feel fine. It’s important to get checked out by a medical professional to make sure there are no hidden injuries.
- Report the accident: Hit-and-run accidents should be reported to the police as soon as possible. Victims have the right to file a police report and provide as much information as possible about the accident.
- Seek compensation: Victims of hit-and-run accidents may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and damages. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- File a lawsuit: If the hit-and-run driver is identified, victims have the right to file a lawsuit against them to seek compensation for their injuries.
- Receive support: Victims of hit-and-run accidents have the right to receive support from victim services organizations, such as counseling and advocacy services.
Hiring New York Lawyer For Leaving The Scene Of An Accident Case
Leaving the scene of an accident, also known as hit and run, is a serious criminal offense in New York. If you have been charged with this offense, it is important to hire a New York lawyer who specializes in hit-and-run cases to represent you.
A lawyer who has experience in handling hit-and-run cases will have a thorough understanding of New York traffic laws and the criminal justice system. They can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.
Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and gather evidence to build a strong defense strategy. They can also negotiate with the prosecutor to try and get your charges reduced or dismissed.
In addition, a New York lawyer can provide you with guidance on the potential consequences of a hit-and-run conviction, which can include fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment.
Hiring a New York lawyer for leaving the scene of an accident case is a wise decision if you want to protect your legal rights and increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.