Can You Leave The Scene Of A Car Accident? Should You?
How long must you stay around after an auto accident? This is a common question, especially if the accident seems minor. It also leads to challenges if you later discover that you made the wrong choice. To help you properly respond in the aftermath of a car accident, here are some answers to your questions.
Is It Legal to Leave the Scene?
Each state decides the laws regarding staying or leaving the scene of an accident. In general, many states mandate that anyone involved in an accident that resulted in injury or damage must provide information, make reports to police, and render aid. Leaving the scene — even if you first exchanged information, for instance — could be construed as a 'hit and run' by police. This could be a crime.
Is It in Your Interest to Stay?
If you're on the fence about leaving the scene, you have good reasons to stay. Not only are you protected from potential criminal charges, but you protect yourself if you have misjudged the situation. You may not feel like you were injured or see damage on your vehicle. However, both hidden injury and damage may be found later. If you failed to get the driver's name and insurer, you'll have a tough time getting these later.
In addition, walking away prevents you from getting evidence to show your side of the story if you need it later. Consider an accident in which both parties exchange information and depart without calling the police. Even if the other driver agreed not to report it to the police, they can later change their mind and make a report — claiming that you were the one to hit them. You have no proof this wasn't the case. You didn't make contact with witnesses, take photos, obtain an impartial police report, or preserve evidence.
What Should You Do If You Left?
What if your accident already occurred and you chose to leave prematurely? Meet with a lawyer to find out if you may face problems with the police or be accused of a hit-and-run. Your attorney can help you explain your decision, make needed reports, and even negotiate with law enforcement if they pursue charges.
A good lawyer can also help you build a case in retrospect. They may help you locate and access public or private camera footage, find expert witnesses to corroborate your story, and even return to the scene to gather any evidence which may still remain.
Where Should You Start?
No matter how you handled the immediate aftermath of your accident, a car accident attorney in your state is your best resource. Call today to learn how they can assist you in making the best choices and making up for ones that may not have been so wise.
For more information, get in touch with a car accident attorney.