You're driving through an intersection when another driver runs the red light, slams into the back corner of your car, and stops. You sit there for a moment, stunned, and then open the door to get out. As you do, that driver speeds off into the night.
This is a pretty clear case of a hit and run, right? The driver caused the crash, didn't stop to see if you were all right or to report it to the police, and ran. He or she fled the scene and could face charges for doing so.
But what if it was you who drove off? Is this still a hit and run?
Fleeing the Scene
Whether you are at fault or not, you can still be charged with leaving the scene of the accident. These are laws at the state level, so they sometimes differ slightly in exactly how you'll be charged or the sentence you could face, but states generally make it illegal for either driver to leave the scene after a wreck. It doesn't matter who caused it.
This doesn't mean that you'd be blamed for the accident if it wasn't your fault and you left. The other driver could still be 100 percent at fault. But you could face additional charges for fleeing.
There is one common sense exception in most situations, though, and this is when emergency services are needed. Then you can leave, get help, and come back. You're clearly not trying to flee. You're endeavoring to get help so that people who are injured survive the wreck.
This was more important in the days before cellphones, when someone needed to leave and find a phone simply to call the police or an ambulance. These days, many calls are made on cellphones from the crash site itself. Still, in cases where this isn't possible, you're not going to face felony charges for getting assistance.
Many people don't spend too much time thinking about car accident laws until they're involved in a wreck. It can be wise to look into all of the applicable laws in advance so that you know exactly what to do without breaking these laws, should you ever find yourself in the thick of an auto accident scene. You may never expect such misfortune, but, sadly, car accidents happen all the time to people as unsuspecting as you may be!
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