Because hit-and-run accidents are on the rise in our nation, legislators are toughening laws and insurance companies are making changes to address this worrisome epidemic. Though hit-and-run accidents are a national problem, they are perhaps even more concentrated in the state of California; so much so, that, in recent years, nearly half of all collisions in Los Angeles involved a driver who fled the scene of the accident.
Whether you’re involved in a serious collision or a typical bumper-bender, it’s important to know the proper steps to take to avoid a hit-and-run situation. There are two main types of hit-and-run crimes in California:
- Penal Code 2001 is a vehicle accident that involves injury or death.
- Penal Code 2002 is an accident that involves only property damage.
Both of these accidents require any driver involved to immediately provide all personal information to any other individuals impacted by the accident. If you flee the scene of an accident, you risk being hit with fines between $1000 and $10,000 and potential jail time of up to four years. These five important facts about hit-and-run crimes in California will help you understand the proper steps to take in the event you’re involved in one of these accidents.
- If you leave the scene, you could be charged even if the accident wasn’t your fault. Even if you are the victim of a hit-and-run, be sure to dial 911 and inform the operator that you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run and you need to file a report. This is a vital step to take if you plan on filing a claim with your insurance company. Also, be sure to take photos and document the damage to yourself and/or your vehicle.
- You could be hit with a felony charge even if your passenger was the only person injured. If you leave the scene of an accident without providing your contact and insurance information – even if you think your passenger is the only individual injured – you risk breaking penal code 2001. Make sure to exchange all proper information. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, try to document any information you have on the fleeing driver, like the make, model and color of the car as well as the license plate number if possible. If there are any witnesses to the accident, try to get their contact information, too.
- The only justifiable reason for leaving the scene of an accident is to seek medical attention. If you fail to immediately stop and provide contact information to seek necessary medical attention for yourself or your passengers, consider notifying emergency responders of your location and your reasons for leaving the scene.
- Even if there is no damage to the vehicle, you can still be charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge. According to Penal Code 2002, if your accident causes any damage to any property – whether it be a fence or mailbox, or other – you are required to report it. By leaving this scene unattended you could be charged with a misdemeanor. If there is more than $750 in property damage or personal injury, be sure to submit a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California to the DMV.
- If you are charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run, you might be able to resolve the charge with a civil compromise. Penal Code 1377 allows particular misdemeanor offenses, like a hit-and-run, to be resolved with a civil settlement instead of a criminal punishment.
Filing a hit-and-run claim with your insurance company is easy if you are able to identify the individual who hit you or whom you hit. This requires you to have all of the proper information like insurance companies and policies. If you are unable to identify the other individual involved, you can file a claim with your own insurance company using UMBI or UMPD coverage claim. For more information on filing a hit-and-run claim, visit Insurance Center Associates, today.