Accident Reporting and Your Responsibilities
Most people know that if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident, they should get information from the other driver(s) such as license, registration and insurance card, and call the police or emergency rescue if necessary for accident reporting. This is just common sense and for your own protection. Unfortunately, many are unaware that there are strict legal rules about what you must do if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. These requirements vary, depending on the situation and the severity of the crash.
After an auto accident, including one involving a pedestrian, with injuries or death, or with damage to a vehicle or other property, a driver must stop and remain at the scene until he or she has provided information, including name, address, vehicle information and drivers’ license, to anyone else involved. If anyone is injured, there is a further obligation to try to render aid by accident reporting or to get help for the injured party. If there is no police officer at the scene, after providing information to the other parties, there is a further duty to then go to the nearest police headquarters and report the accident there.
If the accident involves damage to an unattended vehicle, such as a parked car, or other property, such as a sign or a light pole, the driver is required by law to try to locate the owner of the damaged vehicle or property and, if unable to do that, to attach to the damaged item a written notice with his name, address and tag number.
In all cases, where the accident results in injury or damage greater than $500, the accident must be reported to the nearest police authority by the fastest means possible–these days, probably by cell phone.
Do not block traffic unnecessarily. If the vehicles are movable, they are to be moved out of the way and not obstruct the roadway.
Obviously, these requirements are designed to get help to anyone injured and to identify those involved. Failure to comply with the law can result in substantial penalties. In the case of a death, the failure to stop and report is a first degree felony–a major crime–punishable by up to 30 years in prison, with an even greater penalty if driving under the influence was involved. In the case of an injury, it is a third degree felony, a crime serious enough to get up to 5 years in prison. Even the failure to report a property damage accident is serious enough to risk a 60 day jail term. This is certainly not something to take lightly.
In short, if you have an accident, be sure to follow the law yourself as well as getting the necessary information from others. Please contact us if you have any questions or need our help.