Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident the Same as a Hit and Run?
In Pennsylvania, there are statutes in place that dictate what drivers must do in the aftermath of an accident— be it a fender bender or something more serious.
If you were driving a vehicle that struck another car, a stationary object, or a pedestrian– and left the scene without stopping or reporting the incident, this is the same as a hit and run.
Law requires drivers to stop after an accident
Title 75 §3745 of the Pennsylvania statute states that: “the driver of any vehicle which collides with or is involved in an accident with any vehicle or other property which is unattended resulting in any damage to the other vehicle or property shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of the damaged vehicle or other property of his name, address, information relating to financial responsibility and the registration number of the vehicle being driven…”
If you’ve been hurt in a hit and run accident– where the other driver fled the scene, it is best to speak to a Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer at our firm as soon as possible.
Accidents with unattended vehicles
If you accidentally hit an empty car in a parking garage or struck someone else’s property– like a fence or a mailbox– you are expected to make an effort to locate the owner, identify yourself and let them know what happened.
If there was any property damage, you should leave a note that includes your name, vehicle registration and insurance information. Write down the vehicle’s plate number for your records.
Penalties for hit and run offenses
The penalties for leaving the scene of an auto accident in Pennsylvania can be severe, even if you were not wholly responsible for the crash. The punishment will hinge upon whether anyone was seriously injured, and the severity of the property damage.
Depending on the circumstances, a hit and run can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense.
- Only property damage to an unattended vehicle: $300 fine and up to 3 months in jail
- Property damage to an attended vehicle: $2,500 penalty and up to 12 months in jail
- Serious bodily injury: $1,000–$15,000 fine and up to 7 years in jail
- Death: $2,500–$15,000 fine and a maximum of 10 years in jail
Anyone who is convicted of a hit and run in Pennsylvania may have their driver’s license suspended for up to one year. The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident can be much tougher for drivers who were found to be drunk or under the influence of narcotics.
Steps to take after a collision
It doesn’t matter if you bumped another car in a parking lot, or sideswiped a vehicle on the highway shoulder, it’s important to stay on the scene. It’s also important to exchange information if the other driver is present, leave a note if the car is unattended, and provide help to anyone who is hurt.
Sometimes, drivers are unaware they hit another vehicle or object. In rare situations like these, it may be feasible to contest hit and run charges.
The best course of action after any collision is to:
- Stop your vehicle
- Check to see if anyone was injured
- Call 911
- Wait at the scene until authorities arrive
- Exchange information including license number, insurance, and contact details
- If the damaged property or vehicle is unattended, leave a written notice with your insurance and identifying information
- Identify any witnesses and get their contact information
- Report the crash to your insurance carrier
Protect your legal rights with Chaffin Luhana
Don’t take chances after a collision. Do the right thing and stay on the scene. If you are unsure of your rights, or were the victim of a hit and run, a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer, at our firm– is prepared to help.
For more information, please call Chaffin Luhana to request a free case evaluation. We have the resources and track record to obtain the results you deserve.