No matter how minor an accident may seem, certain steps must be taken to protect both parties legally after it happens. Hit-and-run accidents occur more than you may think – simply because it’s not a matter of who’s at fault. These accidents are more about how legal obligations can apply to anyone who may leave the scene.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run this Labor Day weekend, here’s what you need to know about your rights as the perpetrator or the victim.
The Legal Requirements in New York
If you’re involved in a collision with a person or object on the road, no matter how inconsequential, the state of New York legally requires you to:
- Stop to make sure no one is injured and that no damage occurred
- Share any insurance and contact information with the other parties, and vice-versa
- Call emergency services or the police if anyone at the scene is hurt
- Call emergency services if you think damage to property over $1,500 occurred — no police need to be called if the damage is less than $1,000
- For accidents with property damage but no injury to persons, you are required under law to share your insurance and license information with the other party
- If an accident involves injuries, then the police must be called to the scene so they can file a report. They will then share the insurance and license information of those involved in the accident as well.
New York Hit and Run Offenses
Leaving the scene of an accident in New York, no matter who was at fault, is against the law. If you do so, you can be sentenced to jail depending on the circumstances.
A hit-and-run can be seen as a traffic violation if there was only property damage. It can be a misdemeanor if you fail to share information and leave the scene after an injury. It becomes a Class E or D felony if there are serious injuries or a fatality involved. That’s why it’s always important to follow the law when involved in an accident.
What If You’re the Victim?
If you are involved in an accident in which the other person involved attempts or successfully flees the scene, or if you find your car damaged, there are a few steps you can take.
First, call the police. Even if the damage is minimal or you’re not injured in any way, having a police report on file is vital to any action you may want to take in the future. The police will assess the scene and take notes.
Second, make your own detailed notes and take pictures, too. If you saw the other person involved, write down as many details as you can remember, such as the make and model of their car, license plate number, or physical description.
Finally, if there are any witnesses, you’ll want to gather their contact information as well. Get the names, numbers, emails, or any other information to help you reach them in the future should the need arise.
Always contact your insurance company in the wake of an accident. You can file a report without making a claim, but don’t wait too long to make a claim, if you wish to do so. In New York, personal injury protection insurance allows you to get compensation for damages and injuries even if the other person involved in the accident is never located.