Being involved in a car accident evokes several human emotions, with fear being number one. It is human nature to want to escape fear or the feeling that you have done something wrong to avoid consequences. It is tempting to leave the scene of an accident if there are no injuries and all information has been exchanged, but not so fast. Several negative consequences could occur as a result of your leaving.
What are Your Responsibilities Following an Accident?
There may be variations between state laws; however, most states mandate that you take the following actions. (SOURCE).
- Assess It: First and foremost, you must assess for injuries and call 911 immediately if anyone needs medical care.
- Steer It and Clear It: Determine if vehicles are drivable and move them from the travel lane to the nearest safe location.
- Avoid It: Once your vehicles are in a safe location, avoid exiting your vehicle until necessary. Exchange information with the other party, including contact and insurance information, take pictures and identify witnesses.
- Notify It: If there are no serious injuries, call the non-emergency law enforcement line and follow the dispatcher’s instructions.
- Report It: As law enforcement and your insurance instructed, report the accident.
Hit-and-Run vs. Leaving the Scene of an Accident:
A driver may consider leaving the scene of an accident if it was a low-impact accident that caused minimal damage. Ensuring that there were no injuries and all information was exchanged, drivers may mutually agree to leave the scene of an accident. However, this may not be a good idea, as once you are gone, all evidence is gone. Injuries may arise after the fact, and “new” damage may occur to the other vehicle. A hit-and-run accident is a felony and happens when one driver leaves the scene of an accident without any intention of notifying law enforcement or insurance. There is no regard for damages or injuries.
Can I Leave the Scene of an Accident if There Are No Injuries?
In short, the answer is no; you are better off waiting for non-emergency law enforcement to arrive on the scene. It is illegal in Kansas and Missouri to leave the scene of an accident which could result in criminal charges. Law enforcement will gather pertinent information, including speeds involved, the direction of travel, and other objective information. Remember that you may also need the police report to file an insurance claim.
You should never flee the scene of an accident, but if you have already done so, you may have options. It is essential to cooperate with law enforcement as soon as possible. Contacting an experienced attorney to help gather the correct facts will help you get the best course of action. Not sure what to do? Contact the Law Offices of Reginald Keith Davis for your confidential consultation.