After a car accident, leaving the scene can be a costly and life-changing mistake. Naturally, you feel confused and traumatized after a crash. And as your heart races and adrenaline rushes through your system, you can make a poor judgment. However, unless you need emergency medical care, you should stay at the crash scene. Philadelphia, PA personal injury attorneys recommend this to avoid getting into trouble with the law and facing issues when you decide to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
What Happens If You Leave the Crash Scene?
In the state of Pennsylvania, leaving the scene can result in you being charged with a hit and run, whether or not somebody is injured. When no party is injured, you could face a third-degree misdemeanor charge. However, if the accident resulted in injuries and you leave the scene, you could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. Keep in mind that leaving the accident scene is a punishable crime. You could face jail time, pay fines, face probation, get your license suspended, or pay restitution to the other driver, even if they caused the accident. This is the reason you need to consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you understand the right steps to resolve your accident case.
Such penalties are just for the crime of not staying at the crash scene. When other crimes have been committed like driving under the influence, fleeing from the police, or reckless endangerment, a party could also be prosecuted.
What to Do Following an Accident
After the crash takes place, your decisions can affect your health and freedom. So, you should not do something that can be considered as fleeing the accident scene. While at the scene, here are the steps you must take:
- Check for injuries. After the accident, check if someone in your car has sustained injuries. Then, check on witnesses. If the accident has resulted in injuries or fatalities, turn off your car and keep it in its location. Law enforcement must collect additional evidence that may not be accessible if you move your car.
- Exchange insurance information with the other party involved. Because liability will fall on a party’s insurance provider, exchange insurance information with the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident. Also, get the driver’s name and contact number.
- Take physical evidence. Consider taking photos or videos of the accident that your attorney can use as evidence to support your injury claim. These include skid marks, the damage to both vehicles, the position of the vehicles involved, and weather conditions.