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Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident

Consequences of a Hit and Run Accident

When you're driving down the road, you should always keep your eyes on the road ahead of you. If someone else is speeding or swerving, you need to slow down or pull over to let them pass. You could get hurt if you try to outrun an accident.

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If you're ever in an auto accident, your first instinct may be to flee the scene, but there are laws requiring you to stay put until police arrive. You might also get pulled over by the cops if they suspect you were driving under the influence.

If you flee the scene of an accident, you could face criminal charges. If you're driving under suspension, your license may be suspended or revoked. And your car insurance may not cover you anymore.

What Is a Hit and Run Car Accident?

A hit and run happens when someone gets into an accident and then leaves before identifying themselves or rendering aid to anyone who needs help. Some states also include collisions with animals in this definition. Hit and runs are often called “fender benders” because the damage usually involves bumping fenders. If you get into an accident and leave without stopping to identify yourself, call 911 immediately. You may be charged with a crime if you fail to stop after hitting something.

If you cause an accident, even if your fault, you may still face consequences. You could be charged with a crime, fined, lose your license, and/or go to jail. Even if you aren't arrested, the police will likely write a report about what happened and send it to the DMV. Your insurance company may also investigate the incident. Depending on the severity of the crash, you may need to pay for repairs to the other driver's vehicle, damage to property, medical bills, etc.

In most states, hitting someone while driving does not constitute a crime unless the driver flees the scene. However, in some states, hitting someone while leaving the scene constitutes a crime even if the victim is injured. These crimes are often called "hit and runs" because the driver may flee the scene before police arrive. Some states also have laws against leaving the scene of a crash involving injury.

Criminal Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident

In many states, the penalty for a hit and run depends on the severity of the injuries sustained by the victim. Hit and run offenses are often categorized as misdemeanors, meaning that the offender may face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000, or jail time of up to six months. However, if the victim suffers serious bodily harm, the crime becomes a felony, resulting in harsher punishments including imprisonment for up to five years.

Felony hit and run laws vary widely across the United States. Some states, like California, require drivers to stop at the scene of an accident involving injury or death. Others, like Florida, allow drivers to flee the scene without penalty if they can show that they were not responsible for causing the accident. Still others, like Texas, impose stiffer penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury or death. Regardless of state law, however, all jurisdictions hold drivers accountable for leaving the scene of an accident.

A hit and run is usually considered a misdemeanor crime in most states. However, if you're caught driving away after hitting someone, your offense may be upgraded to a felony. Felonies carry heavier penalties, including fines of up to $10,000 and up to three years in prison.

Administrative Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident

Depending on the state in which the crash occurred, the administrative penalties for hit and run can be very severe. A typical sentence for a first time offense of hit and run in California will result in a mandatory 6 month suspension of your driver's license, and possibly even jail time. If you're convicted of a second or subsequent offense, then your driver's license could be revoked for life.

Civil Penalties for Hit and Run

If you were found responsible for causing an accident, you might face legal consequences. You could be sued by someone else who was injured in the collision. If you were found at fault for causing the accident, your insurance company will probably try to get back what it paid out to cover the other party's injuries. Your insurance company might also try to recover any money it spent paying for repairs to the other vehicle.

Punitive damages are designed to punish someone who acts outrageously. They are awarded to the injured party, but they aren't meant to cover the injured party's losses. Instead, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant's particularly dangerous or reprehensible actions. A hit and run definitely qualifies. Triple damages are awarded to the plaintiff when a statute requires or allows them. For example, if a jury awards the plaintiff $10K in damages, a statute relating to civil penalties for hit & run may allow the judge to automatically double that amount to $20K because the hit & run amounts to particularly reckless or egregious conduct.

Most insurance policies cover punitive and treble damages, but if you were to get hit by an uninsured driver, you could end up paying those costs yourself.

How a Hit and Run Affects Car Insurance

Many insurance companies will cancel your auto insurance if you get into an accident and fail to report it. If you're not sure whether you need to file a claim, contact your insurer immediately. You may also consider filing a police report.

Getting Help After a Hit and Run

If you're injured in a car crash, you'll need to talk to a personal injury lawyer in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC. A car accident lawyer will help you understand what happened and whether you should file a claim against the other driver. You may also need to consult with a medical expert if you were injured in the crash. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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