Leaving the scene of an accident, who pays?


You’ve been in an accident, you are not at fault, you have done everything correctly.  You pulled off the road safely, you check to see if everyone is ok.  You seek out the other driver and see they are okay as well. You exchange information with the driver and before the police can arrive the other driver leaves! Now what?  
Every state has their own laws regarding leaving the scene of an accident. In all states the consequences are much more severe if there were personal injuries or death. These punishments can range from large fines to imprisonment or both. All states considers this a crime and is classified as a misdemeanor or felony, usually based on the seriousness of the underlying accident.
But what if there are no injuries?  You have the other drivers name, insurance information and license plate number.  First thing you should do is look for witnesses, anyone who was on the scene and can identify the fleeing driver and/or car.  Get the witnesses name and phone number and make sure that information is provided to the police.  The other driver can be excused for leaving the scene if they can prove they had an emergency at the time or were under stress and shock from the accident.  This only applies if the only crime that was committed was leaving the scene, not if they were criminally at fault for the accident. i.e drunk drivers or reckless driving.  Having the other drivers information you will be able to provide it to the insurance company and they will back you in fighting the other drivers insurance if need be.
Most insurance companies view the person who left the scene of the accident as the person at fault.  As with everything there are exceptions to the rule, so speak to your insurance company before assuming anything.   Leaving the scene of an accident can be just the tip of the iceberg for the other driver.  Driver’s license revocation or suspension is likely, increase in insurance premiums as well as criminal penalties.  If the other driver caused the accident, you can usually add a personal injury lawsuit to the list of penalties, especially if injuries to other people resulted from the crash.
So if you are involved in a hit and run accident, look for witnesses, get all the information you can get at the scene.  Report all information to the police and your insurance company.  Have your vehicle taken to ICC Collision Centers and we will help get you back to pre-crash condition!  
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3131 S Standard Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92705
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