Fled the Scene of an Accident - What Do I Need to Know?

According to California law, anyone involved in an auto accident must stop their car at the scene of the accident and exchange information with the other driver (insurance & driver’s license) and offer reasonable assistance to any injured parties. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges being filed against you, as well as possible civil consequences. Working with an attorney early can help protect you and your rights.

What Should I Do If I Fled the Scene of an Accident?

In California, fleeing the scene of an accident, also known as Hit and Run, can result in both criminal and civil consequences. The specific consequences depend on the circumstances of the accident and the severity of any damages or injuries. A Hit and Run resulting in property damage is charged as a misdemeanor. If someone was seriously injured or killed, a felony would be charged.

You should immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you left the scene of an auto accident without exchanging information or rendering assistance to any injured party. The attorney can immediately start representing you as soon as you have established an attorney-client relationship. Anything you tell the attorney is privileged and confidential. Do not wait until the next day because the police could contact you before you speak to the attorney.

You should not call the police immediately if you left the scene of the accident. Admitting to the police that you fled the scene of an accident could result in an arrest and criminal charges being filed against you. Talk to a criminal defense attorney first.

What If the Accident Was Not My Fault?

Fault plays no role in a criminal case involving a Hit and Run. The issue of fault is more important in civil cases involving car accident claims. But in criminal Hit and Run cases, it does not matter who caused the accident. The California Vehicle Code requires all drivers involved in an auto collision to stop and exchange information or render assistance, regardless of fault.

Can I Turn Myself In If I Fled the Scene of an Accident?

Turning yourself into the police after you fled the scene of an accident is rarely a good idea. If you do turn yourself in, you may be admitting to committing a crime and you could be arrested on the spot. The police will likely ask you questions about the accident and your actions after it occurred. This is where a savvy criminal defense attorney can really help you before you speak to the police. They can help you learn the terminology and phrases to use to possibly avoid criminal charges for the Hit and Run.

What Kind of Legal Consequences Can I Face for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

Criminal Hit and Run prosecution can result in various legal consequences including:

  • Imprisonment: A defendant may face time in jail or prison, depending on the severity of the charges. A first-time misdemeanor hit and run conviction is punishable by up to six months in county jail. A felony conviction involving injury or death is punishable by up to four years in state prison.
  • Fines: The defendant may be required to pay fines as punishment for their crime.
  • License suspension: The defendant’s driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.
  • Criminal record: A Hit and Run conviction will result in a criminal record that can have a negative impact on your employment and other areas of your life.
  • Restitution: The defendant may be ordered to make payment to the victim to compensate them for their losses.
  • Insurance rate increases: The defendant’s auto insurance premium will likely increase as a result of a Hit and Run conviction.
  • Community service: The defendant may be ordered to perform community service or community labor as a condition of their probation.
  • Civil liability: In addition to criminal charges, you may also face a civil lawsuit if the accident resulted in injury or property damage. The other party may be able to recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Each case is unique, and the specific consequences you face vary depending on the circumstances. It is strongly recommended to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing Hit and Run charges.

Can I Still Be Charged If the Other Driver Did Not Get My License Plate Number?

Yes, it is still possible for you to be charged even if the other driver did not get your license plate number. In many cases, the police can identify Hit and Run drivers through other means, such as surveillance footage, witness statements, or physical evidence left at the scene of the accident, such as a stray license plate or the entire vehicle if it was abandoned.

What Should I Do If I Suspect the Other Driver is Falsely Accusing Me of a Hit & Run?

If you suspect the other driver involved in the accident is falsely accusing you of a hit and run, take the following steps:

  • Gather evidence: If possible, gather any evidence that supports your side of the story, such as the other party’s license and insurance information, witness statements, photos of the scene and car damage, or surveillance footage.
  • Contact a lawyer: Consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer for legal advice on how to handle the situation and protect your rights.
  • File a police report: You should immediately go to the nearest police station or highway patrol station and file a report. Being the first person to file the report gives you an advantage over the person who files the false accusation with law enforcement.
  • Cooperate with law enforcement: If you are contacted by law enforcement, be cooperative, but do not make any incriminating statements without first speaking to an attorney.
  • Contact your insurance: Immediately file a claim with your insurance company to preserve and protect your claim.
  • File a counterclaim: If you are facing legal action as a result of a false accusation, consider filing a counterclaim to seek compensation for any damages or expenses you have incurred as a result of the false accusation.

Can I Still Report the Accident If I Fled the Scene?

Yes, you can still report a car accident even if you fled the scene. However, leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense and can result in criminal charges being filed against you, in addition to any civil liability you may face for the damages caused in the accident. It is always best to stay at the scene and exchange information with the other driver(s) involved. You should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney on what is your best course of action after you fled the scene.

Will My Insurance Company Cover Me If I Fled the Scene of an Accident?

Whether an insurance company will cover your auto damages after you fled the scene of an accident depends on the specific circumstances and the terms of your insurance policy. In general, most insurance policies include a provision stating that the policy will not cover damages or losses that result from illegal acts, such as Hit and Run accidents. However, it is important to note that the exact terms of your policy will vary depending on the type of coverage you have, the company that sold you an auto insurance policy, and the laws of your state. If you fled the scene of an accident, it is recommended that you consult with your insurance agent as to what, if any, insurance coverage you have.

If you were a victim of a Hit and Run driver and were injured or your vehicle was damaged, though, your insurance company will typically help cover the cost of car repairs, medical payments, and various other costs if you carry comprehensive coverage. If you only carried liability insurance, your insurance company will not cover the damages to your vehicle.

Can I Still Be Charged If I Was the Only One Involved in the Auto Accident?

Yes, you can be charged if you were the only one involved in an auto accident. If you caused the accident due to your own reckless or negligent behavior, you may face charges such as Reckless Driving or Hit and Run. Even if there were no other vehicles or individuals involved, you can still be liable for property damage or injuries to others. It is important to speak with a criminal defense lawyer if you have been involved in an accident and are unsure of the legal consequences.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Hit & Run in California?

The statute of limitations refers to the maximum time limit for a prosecutor to file criminal charges against a person accused of committing a crime. If no charges are filed within that time limit, then no charges can be brought. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that cases are brought to trial while the evidence is still fresh and to protect the rights of the accused by requiring that the government move forward with its case in a timely manner.

In California, under Assembly Bill 184 (signed into law in 2014), the statute of limitations for a Hit and Run is six years. A prosecutor must file Hit and Run charges within six years, starting on the date a driver commits the offense. However, in Los Angeles county, a misdemeanor Hit and Run will generally not be charged after one year from the date of the accident.

Attorneys Can Make All the Difference

Our Hit and Run defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners in Los Angeles have the skills and know-how to defend and help you deal with the aftermath of a hit and run. We can assist you in defending against Hit and Run charges, reduce the charges or secure a not-guilty verdict. In some cases, we may be able to avoid prosecution altogether by having the case dismissed early, which looks much better for your criminal and driving records.

Contact our office and we will listen to your story, answer your questions, and discover what legal options are available to you. Call us at (213) 481-6811 for a confidential no-cost evaluation.

Related Posts
  • Escort vs. Prostitute - What is the Difference? Read More
  • Pimping and Pandering - What is the Difference? Read More
  • What Is A Serna Motion? Read More