Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident the Same As Hit and Run?

“Leaving the scene of an accident” and “hit and run” both refer to the same situation in which a driver is involved in an auto accident that causes significant property damage or injuries but fails to exchange information with other persons involved or to report the incident to the police.

Leaving the scene of an accident can lead to criminal charges in both New York and New Jersey. If you are in a crash in either state, you should always at least file a police accident report and, unless no other persons were involved in that crash, you should exchange contact and insurance information with other drivers. Next, call  Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman for legal advice and representation to recover the maximum available damages and compensation for your losses and injuries even if the driver that caused the accident fled the scene.

What Should You Do at a Multi-Vehicle Accident Scene?

The immediate confusion in the aftermath of a car crash can cause you to forget a few of the important things you need to do at the accident scene. After you regain your composure, you should focus on five actions:

  • Verify that no one was seriously injured, and if there are injuries, call immediately for emergency medical assistance;
  • Call and report the accident and its location to the local police;
  • Give your contact and insurance information to other drivers and ask them to give you their corresponding information;
  • Record as much evidence as is possible, including contact information from witnesses, photos of the damage, and notes on weather and traffic conditions;
  • Report the accident to your own car insurance company.

If you fail to stop or to report an accident to the police, you will be cited for leaving the scene of an accident, and you could face felony criminal charges if other persons suffered injuries.

What Should You Do if You Hit a Parked Car?

Never assume that nobody saw you collide with a parked vehicle. In all likelihood, somebody will have seen you and taken a picture of your vehicle’s tag number with their smartphone, or security cameras on nearby buildings will have recorded the accident.

To avoid hit and run criminal charges after you hit a parked car or any other stationary object, you should write down the other vehicle’s plate number and leave a note on that car with your contact information. Again, notify the police and follow any instructions that they might give you about reporting the accident.

What Should You Do if the Other Driver Leaves the Scene of a Car Accident?

Gather as much information about the other driver’s car as you possibly can, including the make and model of the car and its license plate number. Talk to witnesses at the accident scene to determine if they recorded any additional information, and call the police to report the accident. Under no circumstances should you attempt to pursue a driver that flees from an accident scene. Focus instead on what you can do, and leave the pursuit of a fleeing driver to the police.

How Can You Recover Your Damages in a Hit and Run Accident?

Both New York and New Jersey are “no-fault” car insurance states. Your own insurance coverage for collision and personal injury protection will reimburse you for your property damage and losses, medical bills, lost income, and certain other costs and expenses. If your losses and injuries exceed certain limits, you may have an option of going outside of your insurance coverage to sue the other driver and his or her insurance carriers for your damages. You can only do this, however, if you can identify the driver that fled through license tag numbers or witness reports.  When you file a report, the local police will be better able to investigate the accident and to locate the other driver and vehicle.

Call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman for Legal Representation

Please call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman when you suffer property losses or injuries in a hit and run car accident in Rockland or Bergen Counties, or elsewhere in New York and New Jersey. When you call us, you will have an opportunity to consult directly with an experienced car accident lawyer. Learn your legal options and get the information you need to decide if filing a lawsuit is the right decision for you and your family.