When a person is involved in a car accident, they are obligated to stop at the crash scene, check on all parties involved and exchange information. However, not everyone abides by these rules. Some motorists, to avoid getting caught, flee the accident scene.
This is commonly known as hit and run, but under New York law, it is called leaving the scene of an incident without reporting. It is a crime that can result in felony charges, depending on the severity of the injuries.
New York City has seen an epidemic in hit-and-run accidents. Between 2013 and 2017, hit-and-run crashes have increased from 36,000 to 46,000, an increase of 26 percent. In 2017, 5,000 of these accidents resulted in injury. On average, one person was killed every week. Many avoid arrest, with only nine percent of hit-and-run drivers arrested in 2017. Given these statistics, a hit-and-run driver has a very good chance of never getting caught for their crime.
So why do people risk criminal charges and decide to take off rather than stop and help? There are several factors involved in hit-and-run accidents. Lack of visibility is a factor. Hit-and-run accidents are more likely to occur at night because the lack of light makes it more likely that the driver can escape and avoid any liability.
Many hit-and-run crashes are caused by drunk drivers. They lack judgment and may hit a pedestrian or other vehicle. Because they don’t want to stop and get arrested for a DUI, they take a chance and flee the accident scene.
Lack of insurance is another common factor in hit-and-run accidents. Many drivers are underinsured or have no insurance at all. If they cause an accident, they can be held liable. They don’t want to be forced to pay up, so they fail to stop in hopes of never getting caught.
What New York Law Says
Under NY Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 600, those who cause damage to property while operating a motor vehicle face a traffic infraction, which can result in a $250 fine and 15 days in jail. When the accident results in moderate personal injury, it is considered a Class B misdemeanor. The fine increases to $500.
A hit-and-run accident that results in serious personal injury results in a Class E felony. The fine increases to $5,000. The charge is elevated to a Class D felony when the crash leads to fatality. The same fine applies. Jail time may be recommended.
Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney Today
Hit-and-run accidents are common in New York even though it is against the law. Very few people are charged with their crimes, so as a victim, the odds are against you. If you have been injured in such a crash, it is important to seek legal help so you can receive compensation for your injuries.
The New York car accident attorney at the law office of Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. can help you recover compensation for your damages. It can be a difficult process, so be sure to get started right away. Call (212) 518-2095 or fill out the online form for a free consultation.