There are more serious legal consequences, for the at-fault driver, following a hit and run accident. The term refers to an accident where the guilty driver leaves the sign of the accident, after causing injuries and damage. Not only are their civil consequences, but there are also possible criminal consequences, as a result of fleeing the scene. Knowing the hit and run laws in your state will make it easier to understand how to pursue your claims, if you are a victim, or the consequences you may face, if you are found to be at fault.
The basic duties of an automobile driver
Not only are there duties for drivers when traveling on the roadway, there are also certain duties when a driver is involved in an automobile accident. If the accident resulted in an injury, the uninjured driver is normally required to, at the very least, call 911 to report the accident. It is also necessary for the parties involved in the accident to exchange contact and auto insurance information. Obviously, in order to fulfill these duties, the drivers involved in the accident must stay at the accident scene.
Punitive Damages Following a Hit and Run Accident
Unlike many auto accidents, punitive damages are more likely to be awarded in a hit and run accident. Punitive damages are a type of compensation that is available when the person at fault caused the harm, either intentionally or recklessly, or acted in a particularly egregious way. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the guilty party and to deter others from engaging in the same reckless conduct. The punitive damages award is meant as a warning.
Because everyone is deemed legally aware of their responsibilities at the scene of an accident, committing a “hit-and-run” will almost always be considered morally reprehensible and worthy of punitive damages. Even if the accident was unintentional, fleeing the scene was an intentional act potentially justifying punitive damages.
Possible criminal consequences of a hit and run
In many states, the person found responsible for a hit and run accident, the person who left the scene after causing injury or damage, may be guilty of a crime as well. In Missouri, if injuries or death are caused by a hit and run accident, it is considered a Class D felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to four (4) years. A hit and run accident that causes less than $1,000 in damage to the victim’s vehicle, is a Class A misdemeanor. If the damage exceeds $1,000, or the defendant has a prior violation, it is a Class D felony.
Arkansas has somewhat stiffer penalties. Injury, death, or property damage, resulting from a hit and run accident is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000. The guilty party’s driver’s license or non-resident operating privilege is also revoked.
If you have questions regarding hit and run accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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