An accident is described as a “hit and run accident” when a person is involved in a car accident with another car, pedestrian, or other object, and the person leaves the scene of the crash without stopping to identify themselves, leave any information, or help anyone who needs aid. It is common for someone to panic when they get into an accident, and they may have the instinct to leave for fear of getting in trouble. However, fleeing the scene of an accident can yield some serious consequences.
In most states, you could experience the consequences of a hit and run accident even if you did not cause the accident. A hit and run accident simply occurs by fleeing the scene of the accident. Usually, it does not count as a hit and run if you leave to get emergency assistance, as long as you immediately return to the scene of the crash. A hit and run can occur on a highway or on a public road, and many states extend hit and run laws to cover parking lot collisions as well. If you back into another car in a parking lot, and do not leave your contact information on a note on the windshield before you leave, it could be considered a hit and run.
The criminal penalties for a hit and run accident vary depending on what state you are in. A hit and run could be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. Typically, a felony hit and run occurs when a person leaves the scene of an accident where another person is injured in any way. A hit and run felony can bring severe consequences. If you commit a hit and run felony, you could be fined between $5,000 and $20,000. What’s more, you could be incarcerated up to 15 years in prison, depending on the nature of the accident and the severity of the injuries.
A hit and run can also be classified as a misdemeanor. Though punishment for a misdemeanor is less severe than a felony, you could still be fined up to $5,000 and face up to one year in jail.
In addition to criminal penalties, you could face administrative penalties after a hit and run. regardless of what criminal penalties you face, a hit and run could warrant an automatic suspension or revocation of your driver’s license for around six months, or up to three years in some states. Depending on the nature of your accident and state laws, you could face a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license, in addition to any criminal penalties.
You could also face civil penalties for a hit and run, if another party involved in your accident sues you in court for the damages they suffered. This could result in monetary compensation for medical bills, property damages, and lost wages resulting from injuries. A lawsuit is likely to occur if you caused an accident, regardless if you fled the scene of the accident. However, you would likely face increased charges if you are also charged with a hit and run.