Hit and run accidents compound the stress of a typical accident, adding frustration and worry on top of an already difficult event in your life. The first thing you need to know about a hit and run accident in Philadelphia is that you do have legal options, no matter what the circumstances.
Pennsylvania Hit and Run Laws
Before we dive in, let’s start by defining the two laws governing traffic accidents and hit and run crimes in Pennsylvania.
#1. Title 75 – Section 3743 applies to accidents involving only damage to property
Now let’s take a look at how these laws affect what is required after a hit and run accident by law.
What Are the Requirements of a Driver After an Accident?
Under Title 75 – Section 3743 the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property, including other vehicles, shall immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible. Drivers are then required by law to return to and remain at the scene of the accident until they have met the requirements of section 3744, relating to the duty to give information and render aid to the other party
Any driver who commits a hit and run by not returning to the scene of the accident is guilty of committing a misdemeanor of the third degree, which can be punished by a fine of $2,500 or a year in prison, or both.
Additional Requirements if There Is an Injury or Death
Under Title 75 – Section 3742, any driver involved in an accident that results in injuries or death is under additional requirements. These state that the driver must give their name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle they are driving. Upon request by the victims, they must also show their driver’s license and insurance information. If the victims are incapacitated, they must report the accident to police immediately and give the information to the police.
They must also provide aid to any injured parties, including making arrangements for the person to get to a hospital if needed or requested by the victim.
How Does a Prosecutor Prove a Misdemeanor Hit and Run?
In order to convict someone of a misdemeanor hit and run, the prosecution must prove that
- The defendant was driving and involved in the accident
- The accident caused damage to property that belonged to someone else
- The defendant knew that the property was damaged, or it was probable that they knew the property was damaged
- The defendant failed to perform the duties listed in the above sections
Proving Hit and Run When Someone Is Injured
When a hit and run causes death, or permanent, serious injuries to the victim, the prosecution must also prove that:
- The defendant knew that they were involved in an accident that injured another person, or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that another person had been injured or killed.
Consequences if a Driver Fails To Stop and There Is an Injury or Death
If the hit and run accident results in an injury to another person, the driver may be charged with a third degree felony. When someone dies as a result of a hit and run, the charge is elevated to a second degree felony.
Common Hit and Run Defenses
Some common defenses that are used in a hit and run are:
- Only the defendant’s car was damaged: In order for charges to be brought, the hit and run must have damaged someone else’s property.
- The defendant was not driving: If the car was stolen, or being used by someone else during the accident, the defendant will not be charged.
- The defendant lacked knowledge of the accident: If the driver can prove they were unaware that an accident occured, they may not be charged with a hit and run.
If you have any additional questions for hit and run accident lawyers in Philadelphia, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced team at Thistle Law, and we will be happy to answer your questions with a free consultation. Call today at 215-568-6800, or fill out our contact form here.