What happens after a hit-and-run occurs?
All car accidents come with certain legal implications, but the rules are a bit different in cases where an individual hits an object or person with their vehicle and then flees the scene.
Here’s a quick primer on what hit-and-run accidents look like from a legal perspective plus tips on what to do if you experience one.
What qualifies as a hit-and-run?
A hit-and-run refers not to an accident itself, but to what happens afterward. Notably, it refers to cases where someone causes an accident with their vehicle and then leaves the scene of the collision without providing identifying information.
While we typically think of hit-and-run incidents as occurring between two cars or a car and a pedestrian, hit-and-runs also apply when an individual leaves the scene after colliding with a piece of property — such as a parked vehicle.
What are the legal implications?
There’s more than just civil liabilities (i.e., payment for damages) at stake in a hit-and-run. While specific penalties vary by state, hit-and-run accidents may lead to either criminal misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on whether the incident resulted in an injury to another person. Both misdemeanors and felonies can result in fines and/or jail time.
So what should you do after an accident?
Don’t flee. To avoid hit-and-run charges, never leave the scene of an accident without first providing identification. If the accident involves unattended property, leave a note with your name and contact information, and report the incident to local law enforcement.