The only thing worse than getting in a car accident is getting in a car accident and having the other driver drive off before you are able to get his or her information. In California, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident before performing certain duties required of all Californians who are involved in an accident. If you have been involved in an accident, and the other driver leaves before you have the opportunity to get any information, contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible so that your attorney can help you investigate the case and seek the justice you deserve.
Hit and Run Laws in California
In California, a driver is required to remain at the scene of an accident, provide his or her contact information to the other driver, and wait for the police to arrive. If the driver leaves at any time before all of those events have taken place, the driver is said to have engaged in a hit and run. The only exception to this rule is if the driver left the scene in order to seek immediate medical attention, but even in those situations, it is still best practice to leave a contact name and phone number or address with the other driver before leaving the scene.
Penalties for Hit and Run
The penalties for committing a hit and run are stiff but vary depending on how serious the accident was. If the accident caused damage to a vehicle but no one was injured, it is considered a misdemeanor hit and run, which can result in fines of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. If, however, someone was injured in the accident, fines can range from $1,000 to $10,000 and result in a jail sentence of up to four years.
What to do if You Experience a Hit and Run
Even though the other driver is not at the scene, you should still call 911 after moving your vehicle to the side of the road, if you are able to do so safely. When the police arrive, try to recall every detail you can about the accident, including the following:
- The make and model of the car that hit you
- The color of the car
- The car’s license plate number
- Any unique identifiers on the car, including bumper stickers, dents, chipped paint, or anything else unusual that could help the police find the car
- The appearance of the driver
- All details about the crash that you can recall
While you wait for the police to arrive, start collecting your own evidence. Examine the exterior of your car for any paint that may have chipped or rubbed off onto your car. Notice and document any scrapes, dents, or bumps caused by the other car. Take photos of your car from all angles so you can show the police when they arrive.
After the accident, file a claim with your insurance company and carefully document all expenses you incur while repairing your car. Contact an attorney to learn more about your options in case you are able to identify the other driver. The attorneys at Willoughby Brod have helped numerous victims of hit and run accidents recover the maximum amount possible and are ready to do the same for you. Contact us today at (800) 427-7020 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation.
(image courtesy of Kyle Jewel)