Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident the Same as a Hit and Run?

It’s very important to remain at the scene of an accident until law enforcement arrives. The only exceptions to this rule are when you’re unable to contact help or  you are in physical danger.

Been in an accident? Here’s what you must (and must not) do

If you’ve been in an accident– it’s crucial for you to follow proper procedures which include:

  1. Putting people first: Human safety and wellbeing always come first in an emergency. Start by checking yourself out for injuries or other accident-related health problems. If you’re okay, then try to assist anyone else who may have been hurt.
  2. Contact emergency responders: This includes police and, if needed, paramedics or the fire department.
  3. Assess the situation: For example, is your vehicle blocking the flow of traffic? If so, then you should move it off the road if possible. Otherwise, do your best to warn approaching motorists of the obstruction while taking care to not get hurt in the process.
  4. Take pictures, make notes, and talk to any witnesses: The more information you gather, the better able a New York car accident attorney will be to help you.
  5. Cooperate fully with police: Law enforcement officers are trained in accident investigation. Having their report on file can prove decisive in establishing liability.  Answer any questions put to you as fully and as accurately as possible.
  6. Do not leave the scene: We discussed this at the beginning of this post, but it’s so important that we’re going to emphasize it again. Leaving the scene can do more than jeopardize your chances of receiving compensation. It can also make you guilty of a serious crime, perhaps even a felony.

Are there exceptions to this rule?

America’s legal system recognizes there might be extenuating circumstances. This is certainly true when it comes to auto accidents.

  • For example, let’s say you’re unable to get a cell phone signal. In such a case, you have little choice but to venture a short distance to summon help.
  • Another possible exception to the “stay put” rule is when staying at the location puts you in physical danger, either due to the other driver acting aggressively or congested traffic conditions.

Keep in mind, however, that leaving the scene may expose you to legal penalties later unless you’re able to prove that you had a compelling reason. That’s why we urge you to stay in place unless doing so is either dangerous or simply impossible.

What to do afterward

Let’s say the police have arrived, you’ve notified your insurance company of the wreck and gathered as much information about the accident as possible. Your next step should be to contact a law office immediately. Here’s why:

  • To understand your legal options: It takes a skilled car accident attorney to advise you on matters such as liability and damages.
  • To protect yourself from high-pressure tactics: Otherwise, your insurance company may try to intimidate you into accepting a token settlement.
  • To connect with helping professionals: Auto accident lawyers may be able to refer you to counselors, physical therapists, or healthcare providers who can help you to enjoy a full recovery from your injuries.

Contact us at Douglas and London today

Get in touch with us today at Douglas and London if we can be of help. Our consultations are free and our attorneys have recovered more than $4 billion for our clients over the years, making us the law firm of choice for thousands of accident victims. We look forward to hearing from you– available 24/7.