Traffic law in New York requires certain steps of drivers who have been involved in an accident. Failure to follow these steps can result in serious consequences. Do you know how to react if you have been involved in an accident? What happens if you are involved in a hit-and-run? Understanding the answers to a few common questions can help you properly prepare for the aftermath of an accident.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident: An Overview
Leaving the scene of an accident in NY involving property damage or personal injury is a serious violation. After an accident, you must stop your vehicle and exchange insurance information with the other party. If either of you summons the police to the scene, you must wait for them to arrive.
If you leave the scene of an accident without exchanging insurance information or if you do not wait for the police to arrive after an accident, there may be serious legal consequences. This includes traditional hit-and-run accidents when the driver responsible for an accident strikes another vehicle and leaves the scene. If you are in a parking lot or strike an unoccupied vehicle or another object, you must make a good faith to locate the owner or to make sure that your insurance information is left: putting your insurance information on the vehicle for the other driver to find, for example. You should exchange information even if only minor damage is done to the vehicle. You must also notify the police of the accident. They will let you know whether or not they will come to the scene of the accident for a police report or if you are able to leave.
What are the consequences for leaving the scene of an accident in NY?
In NY, leaving the scene of an accident carries a number of possible consequences. They include:
- Fines of between $0 and $250 for property damage and between $250 and $5,000 for personal injury.
- A surcharge of $88 to $93 if a driver leaves the scene of an accident.
- Jail time, depending on the circumstances of the accident. This can mean up to 15 days in jail for a driver who merely leaves the scene of an accident involving property damage. Note: In NYC, the Traffic Violations Bureau has no jurisdiction to order jail time so, if your case is pending there, then you cannot be incarcerated for a conviction to this offense.
- Leaving the scene of an accident in NY involving personal injury is a criminal offense, which means that you can get a criminal record if convicted.
- License suspension or revocation: Leaving the scene of the accident will add 3 points to your license. If you leave the scene of an accident with injuries, you may also face losing your license for up to a year. CDL drivers who leave the scene of an accident may automatically lose their license for a year, even if the other party is not injured.
- Your insurance rates can be increased for a conviction to this offense.
What if I was not the driver responsible for the accident?
Unfortunately, when it comes to leaving the scene of an accident, the law is clear: both drivers must stop, exchange insurance information, and, if relevant, wait for the police to arrive. If you leave the scene of an accident in NY, even if you were not responsible for the accident, you can suffer significant legal penalties.
Are there any circumstances under which it is permissible to leave the scene of an accident in NY?
New York law allows provision for leaving the scene of the accident if you leave to notify the police, if you leave to acquire medical care, or if you feel unsafe at the scene of an accident. You might, for example, need to leave the scene of an accident if you need to summon the police, but your cell phone is not able to get a signal at the scene of the accident. You might need to leave the scene of an accident in NY if you or someone else in your vehicle needs immediate medical attention, which takes priority over remaining at the scene of the accident. When it comes to safety, there must be a clear and present danger at the scene of the accident: if, for example, the other driver is behaving erratically or threatening you, leading you to believe that they will attempt to harm you if you remain at the scene of the accident.
Common Defenses for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New York
The most common defense for leaving the scene of an accident in New York is the “mistake of fact” defense. With this defense, the driver who left the scene will indicate that they did not realize they had been involved in an accident or that they did not recognize that there was damage done at the time of the accident. For example, you might attempt to prove that you thought another driver was waving you on or that you only scratched a bumper in the parking lot, even though more damage was actually done to the vehicle.
If you are accused of leaving the scene of the accident in NY, you may also attempt to prove that you felt unsafe at the scene of the accident or that you left the accident to pursue immediate medical attention. Both of these reasons are considered acceptable reasons for leaving the scene of an accident. However, you may need to provide evidence that this was the reason for your decision to leave, including video or photos of a threat to your personal safety or medical records indicating that you went straight to a medical care facility.
You Have Been Accused of a Hit and Run: Now What?
If you’ve been accused of leaving the scene of an accident, you may need a hit and run driver in NYC. At Weiss & Associates, PC, we’re here to help you fight your ticket and protect your finances and your freedoms. Do you need legal help after a hit and run accident? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.