Auto accidents are serious situations and often times very stressful. Particularly for younger drivers who do not know exactly what to do when they are involved in an accident. It’s a common trend for me to hear my clients tell me they did not stop after an accident because they panicked or simply did not know what to do.
So here is what you need to know in order to make sure you are not charged with a misdemeanor or family. The Hit & Run laws are divided in two categories.
The first category, Vehicle Code 2002, is when there is an accident resulting in damage to only property. In that situation you must immediately stop in a location that does not impede traffic or jeopardize the safety of motorists. You must also locate the other driver and notify them of the damage and provide them with your name, address, driver’s license number and insurance information. If you cannot locate the driver you must leave a note with the above information in a conspicuous place and notify the police department of the accident right away. If you fail to do these things you could be charged with a misdemeanor which is a serious offense.
The second category, Vehicle Code 2003, applies when the accident causes more then property damage and results in injury or death of a person. In that situation you must immediately stop and give your current information to the person struck or any occupants of the car you collided with. You must also render reasonable assistance to any person injured and provide your information to those involved or a peace officer at the scene. Failure to comply can result in being charged with a felony.
Now here is the rub, what do you do if you are involved in an accident but feel unsafe to stop. There are times particularly late at night that a person, particularly women driving alone, do not feel safe to stop at night. In that situation you should quickly inform the other individual if possible to follow you to a safe location, perhaps a gas station or other public area, and immediately call the police from your cell phone and let them know where you are going and why. The law allows you to proceed to a place that does not “impede the safety of motorists” this includes you as a driver. Once you stop you must provide the information and follow the rules as required above. This last option is not completely fail safe but taking these actions will minimize the chances that you would be charged with a Hit & Run.
To learn more about this topic or other laws visit our blog at www.corelawgroup.com/blog or call our office at 949-505-2479 to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.