Why You Should Never Leave the Scene of a Car Accident
You should never leave the scene of a car accident for several reasons. First and foremost, it is against the law. According to Va. Code § 46.2-894, anyone involved in an accident that causes injury, death, or property damage must not leave the accident scene until they have:
- Given their contact, vehicle, and insurance information to law enforcement and other involved parties
- Rendered reasonable assistance to any injured parties, such as calling 911 and requesting emergency medical care
In addition to the potential legal consequences, you shouldn’t leave the scene of a car accident for several other reasons. For example, if the accident wasn’t your fault, you may harm your ability to recover compensation for your damages.
Contacting Law Enforcement After a Car Accident
According to Va. Code § 46.2-371, any driver involved in an accident in Virginia that results in injury or death must call the police immediately. It does not matter whether the accident is seemingly minor or catastrophic; calling the police to the accident scene could make a difference in the outcome of your potential personal injury case.
Police will be responsible for:
- Ensuring emergency responders arrive at the accident scene
- Checking car accident victims and other involved parties for significant physical injuries
- Thoroughly investigating the cause of the car accident
- Determining liability and issuing citations or traffic tickets
Law enforcement officials who arrive at the scene of your car accident will also fill out and file a car accident report. This report can give you access to valuable information your car accident lawyer could use to prove liability and support negligence in your case.
Some of the information contained within your car accident report could include:
- The liable party’s contact and insurance information
- Witness statements
- Forensic evidence, including skid markings and black box data
Legal Consequences of Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident
Depending on the severity of the car accident, leaving the scene may result in being charged with a Class 5 felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishments for these charges can be severe.
Class 5 Felony
Leaving the scene of a car accident that results in injury, death, or property damage of more than $1,000 is a Class 5 felony in Virginia. Per Va. Code § § 18.2-10, the punishments for a Class 5 felony may include:
- Up to 10 years in jail
- Fines of up to $2,500
Class 1 Misdemeanor
Leaving the scene of a car accident that causes less than $1,000 in property damage is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. According to Va. Code § 18.2-11, the punishments for this conviction may include:
- Up to one year in jail
- Fines of up to $2,500
Other Consequences of Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident
When you stay at the scene of your accident, you can get the medical attention you need, as well as a record of the care you receive and its connection to the accident. If you leave the accident scene before receiving medical care, the at-fault party may argue that your injuries were caused not by the car accident, but in another way.
Additionally, if you hope to recover compensation for your damages, staying at the accident scene after the crash can only help your case. Some of the different types of losses you may be entitled to recover include:
- Current and future medical bills and hospital expenses
- Mental anguish
- “Pain and suffering” and inconvenience
- Lost wages and earning capacity
- Reduced quality of life
Fortunately, when you retain the legal support of a car accident attorney, we can help you determine who is at fault for your damages, gather the evidence needed to support your case, and work tirelessly to ensure you are compensated for your damages. However, your compensation could be at risk if you decide to flee the scene of your car accident.
How a Car Accident Lawyer at Our Firm Could Help
Having a car accident attorney working on your case can reduce the time and effort you must put into seeking compensation for your damages.
Our team is here to help. When we get involved with your case, you can rely on us to:
- Ensure your case complies with the Virginia personal injury statute of limitations (Va. Code § 8.01-243)
- Investigate the cause of your car accident
- Gather evidence needed to prove liability and negligence in your case
- Conduct interviews with potential witnesses and experts
- Regularly update you when your case changes
- Prepare insurance documents and negotiate with the insurance company
- File a civil lawsuit if insurance does not cover your damages in full
These are just a few ways our car accident attorneys are here to help. You can learn more about how much your case is worth, why fleeing the accident scene is not in your best interests, and how to make the liable party pay when you contact our team to discuss the details of your case further.
Get Help From a Car Accident Lawyer at the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC Today
Leaving the scene of a car accident could have severe legal consequences and adversely impact your right to recovery of your damages. A car accident lawyer at the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC can help you protect your right to compensation.
Contact our office today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about what’s next for your claim.