FAILING TO STOP AFTER AN ACCIDENT What’s a driver to do?
We frequently receive calls from individuals injured in a car accident caused by a driver that did not stop or who left the scene of the collision before exchanging driver and insurance information. In Pennsylvania, leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to another vehicle or property is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for not more than 90 days. Leaving the scene of a collision involving injury or death to a person can carry a minimum sentence of three years in jail, in addition to any punishment imposed for other criminal offenses.
Additionally, Pennsylvania imposes a duty on a person involved in an accident resulting in injury or death (regardless of who caused the collision) to render aid and reasonable assistance, including making arrangements for the medical treatment, if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if medical assistance is requested by the injured party.
If you are involved in any type of collision, even where the damage seems minor, the best practice is to pull over to the side of the road, exchange driver and insurance information and ask the others involved if they are injured. If someone is injured; or there is debris on the roadway; or the vehicles are not drivable, call 911.
But what happens if you pull over and the other driver takes off?
Not only is it stressful to be involved in a car accident, but when the other driver flees the scene, insult is added to injury. Below are listed some do’s and don’ts when you do the right thing, but the other driver does not.
DON’T chase the other driver down. People have been severely injured or have injured others by trying to force a fleeing vehicle to stop.
DO try to photograph the other vehicle and driver, if the driver initially pulled over, but thereafter quickly flees the scene.
DO report the incident to the police. Call 911 and provide the police with as much information as you were able to gather on the other vehicle and driver. The police may be able to secure video footage from local businesses in order to track the other driver down.
DO get witnesses names and addresses.
DO immediately write down all that you remember regarding the driver, the vehicle and how the collision occurred.
DO report the claim to your insurance company. Many carriers have time limitations on reporting a claim and require that a police report be filed by the insured, when a collision involves a fleeing vehicle.
What about damage to your vehicle, medical treatment and compensation for you injuries? This is where it is important to have the right insurance coverage. If the other driver does not stop and cannot be found or is uninsured, then your property damage claim will only be covered under you own policy of insurance if you have collision coverage. As to your medical expenses, Pennsylvania law requires that you have at least $5,000 in medical benefit coverage on your own policy of insurance. If you carry an optional coverage called Uninsured Motorist Coverage, you can also make a claim under your policy for all other losses and harms, such as pain and suffering or excess medical bills and wage loss.
If you have questions about insurance coverage, the time to review those coverages is BEFORE you are involved in a collision. However, if you have been involved a hit and run collision, we would be happy to discuss your coverages under the facts of your case.
At Drake, Hileman & Davis, our personal injury attorneys have been concerned for the safety of those in our community for more than 30 years. We have been helping the injured find answers, whenever accidents happen. We have a proven track record of results and satisfied clients. We’re ready to answer your questions and provide you with the legal help you need. Contact us on-line or call us at 1-888-777-7098 to schedule your free consultation in the convenience of your home or at one of our five offices located throughout the region.