A hit and run accident is a type of vehicular collision where one or more drivers involved fail to stop and provide their information or render aid to any injured parties. The legal definition of a hit and run can vary by jurisdiction, but generally it involves leaving the scene of an accident without fulfilling the legal obligations, such as exchanging insurance information or contacting the authorities.

In many cases, the driver who flees the scene may be motivated by a desire to avoid the consequences of their actions, whether it’s due to intoxication, lack of a valid driver’s license, or simply a fear of the legal repercussions. This type of decision can have serious legal implications that can have a lasting impact on the individual’s life.

It’s important to understand that the legal obligations of a driver involved in an accident are not limited to simply stopping and providing their information. Drivers also have a duty to render aid to any injured parties and to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation of the incident. Failure to fulfill these responsibilities can result in severe criminal charges, even if the driver was not directly responsible for causing the accident.

Depending on the severity of the accident and the circumstances, a hit and run can result in various criminal charges, including misdemeanors or even felonies. Factors that can influence the severity of the charges include whether there were any injuries or fatalities, the amount of property damage, and the driver’s intent in leaving the scene.

In cases where there are no injuries or only minor property damage, the driver may face a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of an accident. This can result in fines, probation, or even a short jail sentence. However, if the accident involves serious injuries or fatalities, the charges can escalate to felony hit and run, which can carry much more severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences.

It’s important to note that the severity of the charges can also be influenced by the driver’s actions after the accident. If the driver attempts to conceal or destroy evidence, or provides false information to law enforcement, the charges may be further elevated. If the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, they may face additional charges related to impaired driving.

Drivers have a legal duty to remain at the scene of an accident and provide their contact and insurance information to the other parties involved. Leaving the scene can be seen as an attempt to avoid responsibility and can significantly worsen the legal consequences.

By remaining at the scene, the driver can fulfill their legal obligations and demonstrate a willingness to take responsibility for their actions. This can help mitigate the potential penalties and may even help to avoid criminal charges altogether, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

Leaving the scene can make it more difficult for law enforcement to investigate the incident and gather the necessary evidence to determine fault and liability. This can ultimately make it harder for the injured parties to receive the compensation they are entitled to, and can also make it more challenging for the driver to defend themselves against any potential charges.

Overall, the decision to flee the scene of an accident can have far-reaching consequences, both legally and morally. By remaining at the scene and cooperating with the authorities, drivers can demonstrate their commitment to responsible and ethical behavior, and potentially avoid the most severe legal consequences.

The penalties for a hit and run conviction can include fines, jail or prison time, probation, and the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license. The specific penalties will depend on the severity of the incident and the laws in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.

In some cases, a hit and run conviction may result in a misdemeanor charge, which can carry penalties such as fines ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, and up to one year in county jail. In more serious cases involving injuries or fatalities, the charges can escalate to a felony, which can result in much harsher penalties, including several years in state prison.

The length of the prison sentence can vary widely, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Factors such as the severity of the injuries or damage, the driver’s criminal history, and the presence of aggravating factors like intoxication or reckless driving can all influence the severity of the sentence.

In addition to criminal penalties, a hit and run conviction can also result in the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license. This can have a significant impact on the individual’s ability to maintain employment, run errands, and participate in everyday activities that require the use of a vehicle.

Penalties for a hit and run conviction can have long-lasting consequences, both financially and personally. The fines, legal fees, and potential incarceration can create significant financial hardship, while a criminal record can make it more difficult to find employment or secure housing in the future.

A hit and run conviction can have a significant impact on your driving record, potentially leading to increased insurance rates or even the cancellation of your policy. Insurance companies may view a hit and run as a sign of irresponsible driving behavior, which can result in higher premiums or the inability to obtain coverage.

When a driver is involved in a hit and run accident, the incident will be recorded on their driving record, which is accessible to insurance providers. This can lead to the driver being labeled as a high-risk or “problem” driver, which can result in significantly higher insurance rates or the cancellation of their policy altogether.

Insurance companies take the issue of hit and run accidents very seriously, as they view it as a clear indication of a driver’s disregard for the safety and well-being of others. They may also interpret a hit and run as a sign that the driver is more likely to be involved in future accidents or engage in other risky driving behaviors.

The impact on insurance rates can be substantial, with some drivers seeing their premiums increase by hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. Drivers may be unable to find coverage at all, as insurance providers may be unwilling to take on the risk of insuring someone with a hit and run conviction on their record.

In addition to the financial consequences, a hit and run conviction can also have a lasting impact on a driver’s ability to obtain insurance in the future. Even if they switch to a new insurance provider, the conviction will remain on their driving record, and they may continue to face higher rates or difficulty securing coverage.

Overall, the impact of a hit and run conviction on a driver’s insurance rates and coverage can be severe and long-lasting, underscoring the importance of remaining at the scene of an accident and fulfilling one’s legal obligations.

A hit and run accident can also result in civil liability, where the driver may be sued by the injured parties or their families. The civil lawsuit can seek compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the accident.

Even if the driver is not charged with a criminal offense or is found not guilty, they may still be held civilly liable for the damages caused by the accident. This is because the legal standards for civil liability are different from those for criminal charges, and the burden of proof is lower in a civil case.

The injured parties or their families may file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, seeking to recover compensation for their losses. This can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. In cases where the accident resulted in a fatality, the family of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit, seeking to recover damages for their loss.

The civil liability can be significant, with the driver potentially facing large monetary judgments that can have a devastating impact on their financial well-being. The driver may be required to pay the injured parties or their families for the rest of their life, through wage garnishment or other means of collection.

Civil liability can exist even if the driver is never charged with a criminal offense or is found not guilty. The civil and criminal cases are separate proceedings, and the outcomes of one do not necessarily determine the outcome of the other.

To protect themselves from the potential civil liability, drivers involved in a hit and run accident should seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can advise them on their legal options and help them navigate the complex civil litigation process.
Call our office at 505-207-4401 if you have been injured in a hit and run accident. Our attorneys have handled dozens of hit and run cases. We know what it takes to win your case.