Hit and run accidents are extremely serious. There are several mistakes you should avoid making when it comes to a hit-and-run accident.
Fleeing the Scene
The biggest mistake you should avoid making is getting involved in a hit-and-run accident. Accidents happen. And while it’s perfectly natural to want to flee the scene and pretend the entire thing didn’t happen, doing so is a huge mistake. It doesn’t matter if you’re the driver who caused the accident or the victim of another’s actions, as soon as you’re involved in an accident commit yourself to staying at the scene. No matter how bad things are, it’s worse to flee the scene and turn it into a hit-and-run situation.
Assuming You Won’t Get Caught
Most drivers who flee the scene of an accident do so because they feel that they won’t get caught. In the past, you may have successfully avoided the repercussions of the accident, but the odds of staying out of trouble are considerably smaller these days. Not only have witnesses gotten better about looking for and memorizing license plates, but there are also so many cameras on all the streets that there will likely be footage of you driving away from the accident. It’s also likely that someone caught the entire thing on their dashboard cam or cell phone camera.
Making a False Statement to Either the Police or your Insurance Company
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, when you are questioned about the incident, honesty is the best policy. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to the police about the incident or if you’re filing an insurance claim. If you’re caught lying to the police, you could face some serious criminal charges. If the insurance company catches you in a lie, they could come after you for insurance fraud.
Failing to Exchange Information with the Other Drivers Involved in the Accident
Sometimes the damage caused by an accident appears to be so minor, that you and the other drivers decide it’s not worth involving the police. The problem with this situation is that because the damage is minor, no one bothers to exchange information. This is a huge mistake. Additional damage and even injuries may appear after the accident. Having the other driver’s information makes it possible for you to file an honest claim.
Claiming Someone Else was Driving
One of the mistakes many people make after fleeing the scene of a hit and run accident is trying to claim another person had their vehicle. Considering how serious the legal fallout from a hit-and-run accident is, the other person is not going to be willing to go along with your story. Also, the sheer number of cameras around these days makes it easy for police to determine who was driving the vehicle.
The Consequences of Leaving a Hit and Run Accident
If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor hit and run accident in California, you’ll not only acquire a criminal history, the potential sentence could include:
- Up to a 6-month county jail sentence
- Potentially 3 years of probation
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- 2 points added to your driving record
It’s possible that if there were additional driving infractions, additional points will be added to your driving record.
The consequences of a felony hit and run conviction in California include:
- A fine that could be as high as $10,000
- 3 years in a state prison
If someone was injured during the hit and run accident, a year can be added to your prison sentence and you’ll likely face civil charges as well. If someone was killed as a result of the hit and run accident, you will likely also be charged with vehicular manslaughter.