February 5th, 2019 | Updated on April 13th, 2023
Having a car accident can be an incredibly stressful event. And if you have caused any damage or even injured a person, your instincts may go crazy and tell you to flee the scene. Anyone can understand the intense emotions that come in a situation like this, but escaping the scene of an accident in which you are involved is almost never recommended.
Unfortunately, hit and runs happen quite often, leaving the police and the victims in a problematic situation. It sometimes makes the difference between life and death, as the victims suffer critical injury and the driver flees the accident instead of calling for help.
Deadly Hit and Run in Houston
Such a terrible accident happened on the 19th of January in Houston, when a driver struck a pedestrian on the 9300 block of Tidwell Road. The driver fled the scene of the accident, leaving the victim helpless. Unfortunately, the pedestrian lost his life as a consequence. The police are actively working on the scene, collecting evidence that can lead to the driver.
What Represents a Hit and Run?
In cases like the Houston accident, it is quite obvious that the police are dealing with a hit and run. But for less serious events, it might be unclear whether you are in a hit and run situation or not.
If you are involved in an accident between your car and another vehicle, a pedestrian, an object or even an animal, leaving the scene without reporting it or aiding the victims is considered a hit and run. Limits do vary for each state, with some of them extending the definition of hit and run to parking lot collisions, for example.
Always check the laws of the state you are in when the accident happens to make sure you are not in a hit and run situation. If we are talking about minor accidents with no victims or damage, you might have a small chance of not being charged if you leave the scene of the accident.
Exceptions do apply, as there are some cases when leaving the scene is imperative, such as looking for help, searching for a spot with a cell phone signal, or getting away from attackers. There is a grey area that needs to be checked in the penal code or discussed with a hit and run accident attorney from criminal law firms in Sydney if you are not sure where it stands.
Criminal Penalties for a Hit and Run
As the definition of a hit and run vary from state to state, so do the legal consequences. Most states define hit and run by an accident which resulted in a person being injured, whether it’s a pedestrian or a passenger in a vehicle, and where a driver flees the scene. Hit and runs can be classified as felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the circumstances.
Penalties can consist of fines or incarceration. The penalties can range from $5,000 to $20,000, and felony hit and runs can result in up to 15 years in prison. If your hit and run is only considered a misdemeanor, you would still have to pay a fine that can go up to $5,000.
As you see, hit and run is not a crime that is tolerated or treated lightly. As the consequences of fleeing the scene of an accident can be severe for the existing victims and even impose risks for drivers who pass by after the crash has happened, drivers who leave the scene should be punished accordingly, discouraging others from doing the same.
Administrative and Civil Penalties for a Hit and Run
Besides the criminal penalties, you can face if you are found guilty of a hit and run, you will have to face other consequences as well. Almost always, you will have limited rights to drive, whether your driver’s license is suspended for a limited amount of time or revoked permanently.
You are also likely to face lawsuits from the victims or the families of the victims, who are likely to claim monetary compensations for the damage they have suffered.
As you can see, there are serious consequences to being found guilty of a hit and run. If you stay at the scene of an accident, your victims have a more significant chance of suffering less damage, they can get help quicker, and you might have to face fewer penalties.