Generally, a hit-and-run is similar to leaving the scene of the accident. Hit-and-run incidents happen when a vehicle hits an individual or property, causes damages to the affected parties, and leaves the accident scene without giving contact information or attending to the victims. However, there are instances where it is legal to leave the location of the accident.

Read on to learn more about the difference between hit-and-run and leaving the scene of the accident below.

Difference Between Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Hit-and-Running

Essentially, hit-and-run and leaving the scene of the accident mean the same thing. However, the difference between hit-and-run and leaving the scene lies in two varying circumstances. When you are cooperating with the police enforcers, they typically use the term ‘leaving the scene of the accident’ because they are assessing a crime. Meanwhile, lawyers often state ‘hit-and-run‘ because they are examining an accident.

How Does an Accident Become A Hit-and-Run Case?

If you are involved in a car collision, you must do the following:

  • Stop at the accident scene immediately and move the vehicle to the closest location where you will not impede the traffic. 
  • Exchange information with the party involved in the accident, such as driver’s license, vehicle registration, and current residence address.
  • Seek medical attention and attend to victims of the car crash if they have incurred bodily injuries
  • Report the accident to law enforcement and cooperate accordingly.

If a driver in an accident fails to comply with these, they are subject to hit-and-run penalties. This can be tagged as a hit-and-run misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.

  • It is a misdemeanor when a car crash results in property damage and the driver leaves the scene intentionally without proper notice.
  • It is a felony if the accident causes bodily injuries to the victims and the driver at-fault leaves the scene without attending to the injured party.

When Is It Legal To Leave The Scene of The Accident?

You can legally leave the accident scene if you have accomplished your duties in the car crash. Make sure that you have shared information with the party involved, such as:

  • date of birth of the drivers involved,
  • driver’s license number and state,
  • full name,
  • current residence address,
  • vehicle license plate number and state,
  • insurance company name of both parties,
  • insurance policy number and expiration date,
  • policy holder’s name and address indicated, and
  • vehicle owner’s name and address, if the vehicle was operated by someone other than the owner.

You are also required to report the accident to law enforcement. The police officers will notify you if you can leave the scene after examining the incident.

What Do I Do When I’m Involved In A Hit-and-Run Accident?

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident where the driver responsible for the car crash leaves the scene, follow the steps below to resolve your case:

  • Do not follow the driver if they leave the accident scene.
  • Check if you have incurred bodily injuries.
  • Call 911 promptly.
  • Examine the location and check for other damages.
  • If you can, document all necessary evidence, such as witness testimony and photos of the accident scene.
  • Check for surveillance or CCTV footage.
  • File an initial accident report.
  • Cooperate with the law enforcement.
  • Inform them of any details that will help in locating the driver, such as the vehicle’s plate number.
  • Contact a hit-and-run accident lawyer to help you sort your case.

In most cases, victims of hit-and-run accidents feel frustrated and confused about what actions to take after the incident. It is highly recommended that you contact a hit-and-run accident lawyer to help calculate the total damages and determine how you can claim compensation.

Larry H. Parker has competent hit-and-run accident lawyers who can help you build your case. We fight for the rights of hit-and-run victims in Southern California. Call our office at 866-311-2457 to schedule a free legal consultation to learn more about your options. We will hear your side of the story, figure out your choices, and provide you with honest legal counsel.