Getting into a car accident is bad enough. When the at-fault party leaves the scene without taking responsibility, the situation can seem even worse. In this article we'll discuss how a hit-and-run car accident differs from other accidents and discuss what to do should you find yourself in this complex and frustrating situation.
If you've been injured by a hit-and-run driver, call or text our hit-and-run accident attorneys at 602-345-1818 to set up a free case evaluation. You may also fill out this online form, and we will reach out to you.
Arizona Law Regarding Hit-and-Run Accidents
Arizona law (A.R.S. § 28-663) states that “running” from the scene of an accident is illegal.
- The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident on public or private property resulting in injury to or death of a person or damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:
- Give the driver's name and address and the registration number of the vehicle the driver is driving.
- On request, exhibit the person's driver license to the person struck or the driver or occupants of or person attending a vehicle collided with.
- Render reasonable assistance to a person injured in the accident, including making arrangements for the carrying of the person to a physician, surgeon or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if the carrying is requested by the injured person.
In short, drivers involved in accidents resulting in injury or death in Arizona must provide the following information to the other driver(s) involved:
- Legal name
- Vehicle registration number
- Drivers license details upon request
The drivers involved are also required to provide “reasonable assistance” to other parties involved in the accident. The law also states that if a driver refuses to provide the required information, they may be found guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. In the case that a driver does not provide “reasonable assistance” to other involved parties, they may be found guilty of a Class 6 felony in Arizona.
Steps to Take If You Are in a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you are involved in an accident and the other driver immediately leaves the scene, call the authorities as soon as possible. Do not leave the scene before they arrive. The responding officers will likely commence an investigation to locate the hit-and-run driver.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run incident, remembering the following details can prove to be extremely important in subsequent investigations:
- The color, make, and model of the hit-and-run vehicle
- The license plate number
- Specific features of the car, including dents, scrapes, bumper stickers, etc
- Features of the driver or passengers, such as hair color, gender, etc
If you missed some of these details, there may also be eyewitnesses who are willing to provide their description of what happened to authorities to include in the official police report.
Potential Recovery Options After a Hit-and-Run Accident
If the hit-and-run driver is liable for the accident, in Arizona, they are responsible for paying for the damages caused. However, if authorities are unable to find the hit-and-run driver, you may have other options for recovery, such as filing a claim with your own insurance company. Some types of policies that could help you pay for injuries and associated losses include your medical payments coverage or uninsured motorist coverage within your own insurance policies.
Hit-and-Run Accident Statistics
Hit-and-run accidents are fairly common in Arizona. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, more than 15,000 hit-and-run incidents happened across the state in 2019. These recorded incidents injured nearly 3,500 people and resulted in 62 fatalities.
Some reasons that drivers, reportedly, “run” from the scene include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving with a suspended license
- Driving with no insurance
- Driving with an outstanding arrest warrant
- Driving a stolen vehicle
Penalties for Hit-and-Run Drivers
In addition to the charges mentioned above (the Class 3 misdemeanor for failing to provide required information after an accident involving injury or death and the Class 6 felony for failing to provide “reasonable assistance” to involved parties), the following penalties may apply to drivers who leave the scene of an accident, depending on the type of accident and determination of fault. These penalties may include:
- Damage to non-vehicle or damage to a parked vehicle - a maximum of 30 days jail, 1-year probation, $500 fine (plus surcharges), according to A.R.S. § 28-665 and A.R.S. § 28-664
- Damage to property only - 4 months in jail, 2 years of probation, $750 fine (plus surcharges), according to A.R.S. § 28-662
- Accidents that involve non-serious injuries - 2.5 years prison (more if prior felony conviction), loss of driver's license for 3 years, according to A.R.S. § 28-661
- Accidents that resulted in serious injury or death in the case that the non-liable driver fled the scene - 8.75 years (or more if prior felony conviction), loss of driver's license for 5 years, according to A.R.S. § 28-661
- Accidents that resulted in serious injury or death in the case that the liable driver fled the scene - 12.5 years (or more if prior felony conviction), loss of driver's license for 10 years, according to A.R.S. § 28-661
Whether you are the at-fault or non-liable driver, it's important to stay on the scene until authorities arrive. Leaving the scene prematurely could result in serious penalties depending on the facts of the incident.
Contact Impact Legal - Car Accident Lawyers for You
If you've been involved in an accident that resulted in losses, you may be entitled to legal compensation. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our car accident lawyers in Phoenix, call or text 602-345-1818. You may also fill out this convenient online form.
Every case is different, so reviewing the specific facts of your situation with an experienced accident lawyer is essential. Don't delay – get legal help today by scheduling your free consultation with Impact Legal.
Note that we provide car accident lawyer services in Phoenix and throughout the state of Arizona. We also have car accident attorneys in New Mexico.