According to a press release from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006.” They also noted that “hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009.”
From this report, we can see that many individuals lose their lives when people flee the scene. When people follow the steps of a responsible driver, they can save lives. We’ll look at the consequences of hit-and-run accidents below and discuss what protocols you should follow.
What is Hit-and-Run?
Hit-and-run accidents become an offense when an individual involved in a vehicular accident illegally leaves the scene of the crime—whether it be when two drivers collide or when a driver hits a pedestrian.
Most states have traffic laws which outline certain tasks a driver must undertake after an accident to ensure that everyone is safe and that they exchange proper information. It is important to note that there are two different types of hit-and-run accidents—misdemeanor and felony.
No matter which type, there are various hit-and-run consequences and penalties—we have outlined these below.
Penalties of Leaving the Scene of an Accident
The consequences of a hit-and-run accident can vary and may include one or all of the following penalties: criminal, administrative, and/or civil.
As stated above, criminal penalties for hit-and-run accidents are either felonies or misdemeanors.
A hit-in-run involving a driver who knowingly leaves the scene of an accident when there is property damaged is a misdemeanor. A driver charged with a felony hit-and-run is one who leaves the scene when the accident involves injuries—to either a pedestrian or vehicle occupant.
Leaving the scene when there is a death or serious injury to another person will typically result in significant jail time and fines. Hit-and-run felonies can fall under Class B or C, which means that the driver could serve up to 10 years of prison time. Leaving an injured person will not only bring about criminal hit-and-run punishments but civil punishments as well.
When it comes to a hit-and-run, almost every state will impose administrative penalties to your driver’s license. Regardless if it’s a misdemeanor or felony, this will likely result in an automatic suspension or revocation of your license. In Oregon, license suspension will last up to a year; however, if an injury from the accident is serious or fatal, the revocation will happen for no less than 3 or 5 years, respectively.
A victim of a hit-and-run accident can pursue civil penalties against a driver for the harm that he or she experienced. These penalties can include medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Punitive damages are also a possibility depending on remorse shown by the driver and whether or not the crime is egregious.
Driver Responsibilities in an Accident
To make sure that you don’t have to deal with any of these hit-and-run consequences and punishments, follow these guidelines.
- Stop immediately and move vehicles to a safe location
- Provide assistance to any injured person
- Call the police
- Exchange all necessary information. Leave notes if the owner is not available
- Evaluate any damage that has occurred—on property and individuals
- Wait for the police. Do not leave until they have spoken to you and allow you to leave
If you find yourself in a hit and run situation, make sure you get in contact with a Lake Oswego criminal defense attorney. These situations are serious and call for reputable lawyers—speak with Jared Justice for more information.