Any person who has been involved in an automobile accident is required to stop, provide information and render aid, if necessary. Failure to stop after an accident is labeled as “hit and run” and can have serious criminal consequences ranging from fines to prison time. Hit and run accidents often result in property damages, injuries and/or death to drivers, passengers, and/or pedestrians.
The prominent way in which hit and runs occur is when one vehicle strikes another and the offending driver flees the scene of the accident. An individual may also be the victim of a hit and run accident where a car strikes a pedestrian or person on a bicycle and then the driver of the car flees the scene. Many times, these types of accidents involve drunk drivers who flee the scene so that they are not arrested for drunk driving or because they do not realize that they have been involved in an accident because they are so intoxicated. Hit and run accidents can also occur even if there is no physical contact involved in the accident. For example, where one car causes another car to crash into another object without both cars getting hit or where a car causes a bicycle to swerve off the road and hit something without hitting the car.
In Massachusetts, when there has been accident the driver of each vehicle must stop at the scene of the accident and exchange information with either the other driver or with the owner of the property that was damaged in the accident. It is a crime for a driver to flee the scene of an accident. It is important if you were involved in a hit and run accident that you contact the police immediately after the accident in order to provide your insurance company with the report that stated that it was a hit and run accident.
In most states, hit and run is a very serious charge. Often a hit and run offender who caused property damages will be convicted of the crime and usually be required to pay the victim for damages done, either through his insurances company or fines as assessed by authorities. In Massachusetts, most insurance policies have provisions that provide coverage for claims against hit and run drivers.
When the hit and run involves injuries to another person, the punishment is more severe. In this case, a driver might face fines, DMV points and the revocation of his/her driver’s license and/or insurance policy. If the hit and run caused a person to die, the accident is considered a felony by law. The investigating police officers will ask the owner of the vehicle to give a statement and turn in the car for further investigations. At that point, it is best to consult a lawyer before releasing any information to the police. In Massachusetts, hit and run accidents happen all the time. If you have been involved in one, you should know the following. The accident must be reported to your insurance company immediately. The insurance company that insures the vehicle you were in (as either the driver or passenger) covers the first $2000.00 in your “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses, and any bills that are not paid are then submitted to your health insurance carrier. These are called “uninsured motorist claims” and cannot be brought to court, but rather, must be arbitrated if the case cannot settle. The required minimum amount of “uninsured motorist” coverage in Massachusetts is $20,000.00. You may have to give a recorded statement to your insurance company on how the accident occurred, your injuries from the accident, etc.
Dealing with car accidents is always irritating, especially if the person who caused your injury and/or property damage on your vehicle either doesn’t have insurance or was a hit and run driver. Fortunately, you are still able to claim damages under the uninsured motorist coverage with your own insurance company.