According to recent statistics, more than 5 million auto accidents took place across the US, in 2010, killing 32,885 people and injuring another 2,239,000 victims. While the prompt intervention of a team of paramedics can save lives, in some cases the driver flees the scene without announcing the accident, considerably decreasing the victims’ chances of survival. A sudden panic attack and high levels of anxiety triggered by an auto accident often direct the driver to leave the scene of the accident and become responsible for a serious offense. The law clearly stipulates the fact that a driver involved in any type of auto accident should:
- Provide immediate assistance to everyone who got injured in the accident;
- Exchange information with the other driver, or with the owner of the damaged property; and
- Inform the police about the accident, in case police officers are not already in the area.
When drivers fail to comply with the three important rules listed above, they automatically expose themselves to considerable fines and/or significant jail time and are usually charged by police officers with various offenses, including failure to stop after a traffic accident, failure to provide assistance to all people involved in the accident, failure to exchange addresses and names, and failure to alert the authorities. The gravity of the legal consequences threatening your freedom and your welfare depends on the gravity of your traffic accident. If the crash has resulted in fatalities or severe injuries, you could be charged with an indictable offence. In such cases, one should expect to spend up to 10 years in jail and to pay a huge fine. It goes without saying that a competent lawyer could make things a whole lot easier for you by offering excellent legal assistance and helping you understand the particularities of your case and your real options.
Things You Should Know Before Going to Court
If you’ve made yourself responsible for an auto accident and you’ve also left the scene of the accident, prepare yourself for a lengthy battle in court. You have three main options at hand: you can declare yourself guilty, declare yourself not guilty, or take the whole blame for the accident and hope to enter a diversion program. Diversion has numerous benefits: it allows you to live the rest of your life without the stigma of a criminal record while being charged with a lesser offence after successfully completing all phases of this program (which may include counseling, therapy, and/or community service). Generally, diversion is for drivers who have caused auto accidents with less severe consequences. The prosecution will strive to prove the following: the fact that you were driving, the fact that an accident took place, and the fact that you disobeyed the law and failed to provide assistance to your victims and/or to exchange addresses and names with the owners of the damaged property.
Hit-and-run cases are always problematic and require excellent legal representation from a competent attorney who specializes in auto accidents. If you have recently fled the scene of an accident, it is advisable to contact an experienced lawyer and discuss your options as soon as possible to avoid severe legal repercussions.