Am I free to leave the accident scene if there are no injuries?
It’s tempting to rush off after a car crash as soon as you’ve ensured everyone’s okay, exchanged information, and assessed the damage to vehicles and property. You must get to your appointments and social engagements! Stop right there; it might not be wise to flee the collision scene. Let’s examine the issue of leaving the site of an accident, even if nobody was hurt. Click here to know more about your legal rights.
The difference between fleeing the scene and committing a hit-and-run
Let’s define terms like “leaving the scene of an accident where no one was harmed” and “not leaving the scene where anyone was injured” before we get too deeply into this topic.
To leave the site of an accident after exchanging information and making sure no one was wounded and that property damage was limited is far different from committing a hit-and-run. According to the AAA Foundation for Road Safety, a hit-and-run incident occurred every 43 seconds in 2015. This number is a frightening 737,100. There were 2,049 people killed in hit-and-run accidents in 2016.
The consequences of a hit-and-run are severe. It is defined as leaving the site of an accident without rendering aid, sharing information, or checking on the well-being of other drivers involved. Because of this, a crime normally labeled a misdemeanor becomes a felony.
In contrast, leaving the site of an accident implies that all responsibilities were met prior to the parties’ mutual agreement to leave, including but not limited to:
- Sharing of insurance, registration, and licencing details
- Making sure nobody gets hurt
- Taking precautions to reduce property destruction
- If police are too busy to react quickly, the collision is impeding traffic, no one was hurt, and information has been exchanged, drivers may decide to leave the site. These incidents are annoyances, such as minor collisions.
If no one has been hurt, I have no reason to stay here.
Even if the accident seems minor, it’s best to wait for the police. The following are a few arguments in favour of your continued presence here.
Possible improvisation on the part of the opposing driver
Once you leave the scene, the other driver can claim whatever they want, even if you saw the damage to their car. Claiming “serious injuries” that weren’t immediately obvious and property damage that was already present on the car are examples. It’s now muddled “he said, she said” argument that requires a police record to resolve.