Being in a car accident can be a traumatizing experience, even if neither you nor the other parties involved appear not to have been seriously hurt. Nonetheless, you may find yourself with heightened nerves due to the adrenaline rush and you might not be thinking straight; as a result, you may find yourself wanting to leave as soon as possible.
However, according to Long Island accident lawyers, staying at the scene of an accident – be it either a relatively minor fender-bender or something far more serious – is vital, and more importantly, leaving is illegal and can result in criminal charges and financial liability for damages.
In contrast, if the other party that was involved in the accident ends up fleeing the scene themselves before police arrive or you have had the opportunity to exchange insurance and identification information, it is again imperative that you remain at the scene, as the authorities may still be able to afford you options for legal recourse.
From a legal standpoint, you need to remain at the scene of an accident in order to give a statement to police when they arrive to ensure that you are able to give your version of events as they took place. Even if the other driver involved in your accident may seem like a nice person, it’s always best to remember that you ultimately do not know them personally, and that they have a vested interest in the accident being declared your fault.
In addition, there needs to be a legal record of the accident for you to be able to file an insurance claim, and both the damage to your vehicle – and possibly your injuries – may end up being more serious than first impressions may suggest.
No matter what your reasons may be for deciding to leave the scene of an accident – especially one that resulted in injuries to other parties – it will look extremely bad to a judge and jury. Remaining at the scene is not only the responsible action to take, but you also have a legal obligation to do so. New York State lists these obligations for those involved in traffic accidents online, and they include:
- Stop immediately at the scene of the accident but make sure you do not block traffic.
- Exchange driver’s license number, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance information with other drivers involved in the accident.
- Provide personal information, including your name and address.
- Call 911 right away and report the accident to the police.
Failing to provide the information required above could result in misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $1,000; in addition, leaving the scene of an accident could get you hit and run changes, the penalties for which can vary but typically result in fines – up to $5,000 – and possible jail time.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident where the other party flees the scene, it can certainly be a jarring and upsetting experience. However, there are several steps that you should immediately take in order to ensure your safety and well-being, in addition to securing possible legal recourse later on.
- Do not chase the hit-and-run driver, as that could put both yourself and your passengers in danger. Instead, pull over right away.
- Record any information and details that you can obtain at the scene. If possible, get a description and license plate number of the fleeing car, note the time and location of the accident, and see if any bystanders witnessed the incident.
- Immediately call the police; the responding officer will take a detailed report, covering all of the basic information about the accident
- If you have been injured, seek medical attention; this is vitally important, as often serious injuries may not be readily apparent right away.
- Contact your insurance company and inform them that you were involved in a hit-and-run accident. If you can get copies of the accident report from the police, make sure you send them to your insurer.
A crash report must also be filed within 10 days of the accident; typically, the responding police officer will do so, but if you are unsure that they did so, you can submit one yourself. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notes that any submitted crash report should be available within 7 days of having been submitted.
If you were the victim of a hit-and-run driver, a Long Island accident lawyer can help you get compensation for your injuries and engage the services of investigators who may be able to locate the at-fault driver. And even if the driver is not found, you could get compensation through your insurance company via uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage.
Have you been injured in a hit-and-run motor vehicle crash? Contact the accident attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP at 866-878-6774 now or fill out our simple form for a free consultation.