Drivers in Pennsylvania have a responsibility to stop immediately at the scene of a car accident, including property-damage only collisions. Failing to stop or fleeing the scene of a crash is a crime known as a hit-and-run. If you get involved in a hit-and-run accident in Pittsburgh, you may not know what to do or how to protect your rights. Here’s everything you need to know from our Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers.
The Dangers of a Hit-and-Run
Hit-and-run accidents are so dangerous because they can leave injured crash victims without the help that they need to survive. If an at-fault driver hits another vehicle, bicyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian and takes off without stopping, the injured victim could go without medical care at a critical time. Sadly, this can lead to death. Hit-and-runs are also traumatic because the at-fault driver could potentially get away without facing any legal consequences – and the victim may be left with limited options for financial recovery.
Pennsylvania Hit-and-Run Laws
Section 3742 of the Pennsylvania Statutes states that any driver involved in an automobile accident must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible, or return right away and remain at the scene until he or she has fulfilled the driver requirements listed in Section 3744. These include:
- Exchange names, contact information and vehicle registration numbers with the other driver.
- Notify the police that a car accident took place.
- Make arrangements to aid injured persons, such as calling for an ambulance.
Failing to fulfill the duty to give information and render aid is a hit-and-run crime. The penalties of a hit-and-run conviction in Pennsylvania can include 1 to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500. This crime is a second-degree felony in Pennsylvania. If the hit-and-run accident caused serious bodily injury, it is a third-degree felony with enhanced penalties, including a minimum prison sentence of 90 days.
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
If another driver hits you or your vehicle and drives away without stopping, there are actions that you should immediately take to report the crash and protect yourself. If you can, take the following steps:
- Call 911 to file a police report, regardless of the severity of the accident. The police will arrive at the scene, take witness statements, look for surveillance footage, document the crash in a report, and search for the hit-and-run driver.
- Get immediate medical care if you are injured. Do not delay in going to a hospital after a hit-and-run, as this could harm your chances of qualifying for insurance coverage. Request copies of your medical bills and records.
- Contact a Pittsburgh hit-and-run car accident attorney. A lawyer can inform you of your rights and help you with the insurance claims process. You can trust a lawyer to go up against an insurance company and negotiate for fair financial compensation on your behalf.
Do what you can to document the crash and your related injuries or property damage, including taking photographs at the scene and retaining all relevant records. These claims can be complicated, so keeping as many details as possible can help when working to file a personal injury claim with a Pittsburgh car accident attorney.
Will Your Own Insurance Pay for a Hit-and-Run Accident?
In Pennsylvania, all drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) automobile insurance. PIP insurance covers the policyholder after a car accident, regardless of fault for the crash. After a hit-and-run accident, if the at-fault driver remains unidentified, your own PIP insurance can cover your losses.
If you purchased only the minimum required amount of PIP insurance, you would receive up to $5,000 in medical damages. You may also be able to use your health insurance for supplemental coverage. In addition, if you have collision coverage on your vehicle, this can pay to repair or replace your car if the at-fault driver is never identified.