Leaving the scene of an accident can lead to serious consequences, especially if someone sustained fatal injuries or was seriously injured. In Massachusetts, as in all other states, you are obligated under law to stop and to do the following:
- Provide your name and address
- Your vehicle registration
- Auto insurance
If you caused property damage and the driver or owner was not present, you are still obligated to leave this information in writing on the windshield or some other conspicuous space. If the other party was injured and is awaiting medical attention, you should remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. At the very least, if another person is present at the scene and intends to remain, the involved driver has a duty to provide the mandatory information to that person if the injured party was incapacitated.
What Can Happen When You Flee
By fleeing the scene of an accident without providing the relevant information, you risk being charged with the following depending on the circumstances:
- Leaving the scene of a property damage accident
- Leaving the scene of an injury accident not resulting in death
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving death
Monetary penalties and mandatory jail or state prison time can result in some cases.
There are situations where a motorist may not have been aware that an accident had occurred or even that a pedestrian had been struck and injured. Under extreme weather conditions such as a white-out during a snowstorm or heavy rain or fog, it is possible that a motorist did not see the other vehicle or pedestrian and considered a bump or minor collision to not have caused any damage or injury.
However, absent such conditions or even if such conditions were present at the time, it could likely be considered as an exercise of ordinary care to at least investigate if it were reasonable to assume that you had struck something or a pedestrian. A motorist’s contention that he was unaware of a collision will be met with skepticism if there was property damage to the vehicle or the person who was struck died or sustained serious injuries.
Other Duties and Consequences of Fleeing an Accident
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, you should immediately report the accident to law enforcement. In Massachusetts, you have 5-days to report an accident that caused injuries, death, or more than $1,000 of collective property damage. You also must submit a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator form to the RMV and to the relevant police department if 911 was not called.
If you fled an accident that involved a death and you are found at fault, the RMV will automatically suspend your driving privileges for at least 3-years. If you have a past similar conviction, your license may not be reinstated for 10-years.
Should you delay reporting, this can jeopardize the police’s investigation and ability to locate the responsible driver. Also, your insurer might dispute your claim for injuries and other damages or deny your claim for uninsured motorist coverage (UM). In Massachusetts, UM coverage is mandatory. Under such circumstances, contact an experienced car accident attorney from Burns and Jain.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)
In the event the responsible driver in a hit-and-run is not found, you can obtain compensation under the UM provision of your auto liability policy or that of a household member. Your claim will proceed as if it was a third party claim except that you are making a claim against your own insurer who is now your adversary. Your insurer will insist on adequate proof that a hit-and-run accident did occur, and that you sustained compensable injuries and other damages.
UM claims are resolved either through settlement or by binding arbitration and not by jury trial. It is essential that your claim be handled by a veteran car accident attorney to have the best opportunity to obtain a reasonable resolution of your claim.
Damages in Car Accident Injury Claims
Compensation in a car accident injury claim depends on many factors including whether you were working, if you sustained injuries that a medical provider can confirm, and you can offer documentary evidence of lost earnings and other economic losses. If a UM claim, you are limited to the policy limits if no other defendant is involved.
Damages in typical cases may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Only an experienced car accident attorney can adequately demonstrate your damages.
Retain the Law Office of Burns and Jain
Have a car accident attorney from Burns and Jain represent you at the outset so that you can obtain what you deserve. Call our office at (617) 227-7423 for a free and comprehensive evaluation of your injury claim. Our fees are not paid until we recover compensation for you.