What Is a “Hit and Run” Accident?
A “hit and run” accident occurs when a driver of one of the vehicles involved either flees the scene of the accident or fails to properly identify himself/herself. No matter how big or small the accident, it is always a crime in California to leave the scene of an accident without having exchanged the required information.
California Vehicle Code section 16025 makes it a crime to leave the scene of an accident without providing the following information (except under special circumstances, such as being too injured):
- Your name
- Your address
- Drivers license number
- Vehicle ID number (in your registration)
- Name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle
- Insurance information
It also is generally a good idea to give your phone number or contact information to the other parties involved, therefore, if any information was accidentally withheld, it can be exchanged after the accident.
If no other driver or owner of the property is present, you must leave a note with your information at the scene.
Can I Still Be Fully Compensated for My Property Damage and Injuries if the Other Driver Fled the Scene?
If the driver who committed the hit and run is able to be identified, then the process for determining liability and getting you compensated for all damages will be basically the same as that of a regular accident claim. The driver who hit you will be subject to criminal charges under California Vehicle Code section 20001 or 20002.
If the driver who fled is unable to be found, the damage you can be compensated for is dependent upon your insurance policy. If you have collision coverage, then your property damage will be paid for. If you have MedPay included in your policy, then you will be compensated for your injuries, no matter who is declared at fault. Keep in mind, however, that Medpay will only cover the direct costs of your medical bills, and it will not compensate you for lost wages, pain and suffering, or emotional distress caused by the accident.
What Are the Criminal Penalties for Committing a Hit and Run in California?
California Vehicle Code sections 20002 and 16025 make it illegal to flee the scene of an accident and withhold the required identification and insurance information from the other parties involved.
CVC 16025, which regards information required to be disclosed in an accident, is considered an infraction in California and is punishable by a fine of up to $250.
CVC 20002 makes it illegal to flee the scene of an accident where there is only damage to property and no injuries. It is considered a misdemeanor in California, however, it is common for these cases to be thrown out if the perpetrator pays financial restitution for the damages. The penalties for violating CVC 20002 can include:
- Up to 6 months in a county jail
- A maximum fine of $1,000
CVC 20001 makes it a crime to flee the scene of an accident where there are injuries or death. This is a felony offense in California that is punishable by:
- Up to 4 years in a state prison
- A maximum fine of $10,000
Are you in need of legal assistance involving a hit and run accident in California?