In Missouri, drivers are legally required to stay at the scene of a car accident until they have exchanged information with the other party, or until police have arrived.

This makes it possible for drivers to exchange insurance information and for police to arrive at the scene, if needed. When the other driver leaves the scene early, this is called a “hit and run accident,” and it’s often an attempt to evade accountability for their role in the crash.

This can be a scary situation if you are the other party. One moment, you are managing the adrenaline and panic that can set in after a car accident, and the next, you might be wondering if you’ll ever be able to recover compensation from the other driver.

If you or someone you know was involved in a car crash and the other driver left the scene, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Niemeyer, Grebel and Kruse are here to help. Contact us any time at 314-241-1919 to schedule a free case evaluation.

What Happens If The Other Driver Leaves the Scene of a Car Crash?

As we noted above, leaving the scene of an accident before:

  1. The parties involved in the crash can exchange information, or
  2. Police have arrived

Is a criminal offense under Missouri Revised Statutes §577.060. It’s usually treated as a misdemeanor, unless the crash results in injury or property damage greater than $1,000, in which case it is charged as a felony and can lead to up to four years in state prison.

Not to mention, the fleeing driver’s actions can be seen as an admission of fault or liability, which may ultimately support the remaining driver’s claim once the hit-and-run driver is identified.

This is why, if you have been involved in a hit-and-run crash, it’s critically important to document the scene as thoroughly as possible and report the incident to the police and your insurance provider.

Immediate Actions After a Hit and Run

In any car crash, your first priority should be ensuring your personal safety. Check for any serious injuries and ensure the safety of your passengers.

If possible, move to a safe location away from the flow of traffic. Once you have ensured your immediate safety, report the accident to local police. This is not only a legal requirement but also crucial for insurance and potential personal injury lawsuit purposes.

Next, turn your attention to documenting the accident scene. This may feel challenging in the moment, but evidence collected immediately after the accident can be invaluable in identifying the fleeing driver and supporting your insurance claim. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Take photos of the damage to your vehicle and the crash site.
  2. Note any distinguishing features of the other vehicle or the driver.
  3. Gather the contact information of any witnesses.

If you are able to get the other driver’s license plate number, this can potentially lead to the successful identification of the hit and run driver.

Lastly, even if no injuries are immediately apparent, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Some injuries may not be noticeable right away but could manifest later. Having a timely medical record post-accident can also be a crucial piece of evidence in recovering damages.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

After dealing with the police, your next step is to contact your insurance provider. Insurers typically require you to report your crash as soon as possible. Additionally, reporting the incident while your memory is fresh can make it easier to more accurately report details to them.

Compensation for Hit and Run Victims

Depending on your coverage, your insurance may offer reimbursement for vehicle repairs or replacement. Collision coverage is particularly useful in hit-and-run scenarios, as it can help with repair costs regardless of who was at fault.

Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and uninsured motorist coverage can provide compensation for medical expenses and lost earnings. If the at-fault driver is not identified, victims should file an insurance claim against their own policy under PIP or uninsured motorist coverage.

Be aware that insurance companies set maximum amounts, known as policy limits, for insurance claims. You might also be required to pay a deductible before your insurance company contributes to the repair costs.

If your damages exceed these limits or the at-fault driver is not identified, it might become necessary to seek legal assistance for a personal injury lawsuit.

Legal Implications for Hit and Run Drivers

As we mentioned above, the penalties for a hit and run can become steep if property damage or injuries occurred. In addition to jail time, drivers can face fines of up to $5,000 and up to 12 points on their driving record.

Accumulating 12 points for a driving offense within a year can lead to a year-long revocation of the driver’s license in Missouri. If ticketed by a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer, it becomes a permanent mark on the driver’s record, which cannot be removed.

Experienced, Aggressive Legal Help

Though dealing with a hit and run can be overwhelming, remember that the attorneys at Niemeyer, Grebel, and Kruse are there to support you. They’re ready to take on the heavy lifting of your case, ensuring you get the compensation you’re owed. As St. Louis’ top personal injury lawyers, Mark Niemeyer, David Grebel, and Michael Kruse have a proven track record in civil and criminal jury trials.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a hit and run, don’t hesitate to reach out. Call 314-241-1919 for a free case review.

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