Leaving the Scene of an Accident / Hit and Run in Pennsylvania
It is a legal requirement in Pennsylvania for anyone whose vehicle has been involved in an accident and has caused damage to property or harm to an individual person to stay at the scene of the accident until assistance has been rendered or information has been provided to the affected parties. Failure to do this is considered a criminal offense in Pennsylvania, as it is in many other states. As the charge of leaving the scene of an accident is considered a felony, it could mean considerable penalties, including jail, loss of your driver license as well as a heavy fine.
If you have been arrested for such an offense you should make sure you are properly represented by an effective and experienced defense attorney who can help defend you. A conviction could seriously affect you for the rest of your life as well as affect your family and your future job prospects even after your sentence is over.
The Legal Requirements in Pennsylvania
The law in this state requires anyone who is involved in an accident in which someone has been injured or property has been damaged, however slight, to stop and park wherever it is safe to do so, close to the scene of the accident. There are then certain things which you are expected to do, depending on what or who has been hit, the degree of severity of the accident and whether anyone is present at the time.
Accidents involving Damage to Property Only
If the vehicle you were driving has hit another vehicle, a building or any other sort of property, you are still expected to stop and provide information to the owner or occupant of that property, if that is possible. You also need to contact a law enforcement officer to advise them of what has happened. Even if no one is present, then you must stop and leave written information about the accident and your details for the owner in a place where it can be discovered.
If the owner of the property or the driver of the other vehicle involved is present you will need to provide the following details:
- your name and address
- your vehicle registration number
- your license plate number
- your insurance company or policy number.
If the object that has been damaged is another vehicle, then the driver of that vehicle should also provide you with similar information.
Accidents Involving Bodily Injury or Serious Bodily Injury
If you are involved in an accident in which someone has been injured, however seriously, then you must stop and park somewhere safe and out of the way of any other traffic. You are also required to provide the information given above as in an accident involving property damage. You are also expected to give assistance of any kind necessary such as first aid, calling an ambulance or helping take the injured person or people to the nearest hospital.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
These depend on the type of accident and what or who has been affected and how seriously. Note that it is not the accident itself which is likely to lead to the charge, but the fact that you have not discharged your responsibilities before leaving the scene. It is entirely possible that additional charges and claims may be brought independently by the victims accident lawyer. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense and depending on the results of an investigation into the accident you may be in serious trouble without a lawyer to guide you through.
Generally, any accident leading to property damage will result in a misdemeanor while injuries or death involved will lead to a felony if you leave the scene. The fine imposed can vary from as little as $5,000 to as much as $15,000 while jail sentences imposed can vary from 7 days to 7 years.
If you have been arrested for the offense of leaving the scene of an accident, you are in a potentially serious situation and you need effective and prompt legal representation. You must use an experienced Pennsylvania defense attorney to unravel the details of the incident you were alleged to have been involved with and ensure that you get no more than the sentence you deserve.
Learn about Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania next.