Being involved in an automobile collision can induce extreme stress and anxiety—causing some to flee the scene of an accident. However, doing so not only has severe consequences for the individual responsible, but in some incidences causes immeasurable trauma for victims and their families.
A hit and run is a type of collision between a vehicle and another vehicle, a pedestrian or another object. Under state laws, a collision can be qualified as a hit and run whether a driver is on a highway, main road, in a neighborhood or in a parking lot. However in a hit and run, a driver leaves the scene of the accident rather than identifying themselves to the police or others involved. Many prosecutors and judges view hit and run offenders as lacking in moral judgement, and as a result, emphasize harsher penalties.
Faced with the fear of prosecution, some drivers decide to leave the scene of an accident to avoid repercussions. In such an event, it is important to know what your rights are if you are the victim of the accident.
Leaving the scene of an accident can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the accident. Further, drivers who leave the scene of an accident are often assumed to be impaired and attempting to avoid the consequences of their actions, leading authorities to pursue additional charges.
Drivers may be charged with felony hit and run when they leave the scene of an accident where another individual is injured. Whereas misdemeanor hit and run charges can result in significant fines and jail time, felony hit and run charges often lead to extensive monetary fines and long term incarceration. Further, if someone is injured in the accident, the driver has a legal and moral responsibility—at a minimum—to notify medical services. Failure to do so can result in additional penalties.
In addition to the criminal consequences of leaving the scene of an accident, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can choose to suspend or revoke a driver’s license for a period between 6 and 36 months. Based on the severity of the accident and the charges, a state DMV may mandate that a driver’s license be revoked indefinitely. Often, license suspensions or temporary revocations create difficulty in obtaining car insurance, and insurance companies may terminate existing policies if a driver is found guilty.
Civil lawsuits stemming from car crashes are common when one driver is at fault. Regardless of criminal and state penalties for a hit and run accident, a driver can be sued in civil court for causing damage to property, or for the injury of another person. When a party suffers injuries in a crash, that party may also be eligible to sue the guilty party and seek compensatory damages for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering, among others.
If you have been the victim of a hit and run, it is important that you know your rights and the potential repercussions for the other party. Legal authorities advocate for harsh punishment for drivers who commit hit and run accidents and as a victim of this crime, you may be entitled to compensation for any injury or loss that you experienced.
Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz holds victims’ rights as our highest priority. We have instilled a philosophy within our firm that emphasizes sincere compassion and genuine care for victims and their families. Contact the experienced automobile crash attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz to learn about your legal options.