Hit and Run Victim Left Frustrated by Baltimore Police. What the Law Says

Gregg Edwards, a Charles Village resident, is the victim on a hit and run that left him with severe property damage.

He was hosting a holiday party on Saturday, December 1st, at his home, when all of a sudden he heard a crash. When he went to check it out, he saw that his parked vehicle, along with another one parked closely by, were damaged.

Edwards’ porch camera captured the entire incident. A minivan slammed into the two cars, then drove away. The footage, unfortunately, did not catch the license plate of the vehicle, so even when Edwards went to the police to file a report, there was nothing they could do.

Unfortunately, this incident isn’t anything new for a car accident lawyer in Maryland. Hit and run crashes made for 11.7% of total vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2015, according to the Foundation for Traffic Safety. A possible explanation as to why people flee the scene of the crime lies within people’s basic human instincts: to run from danger. However, what does the law say?

What Constitutes a Hit and Run?

Simply put, a “hit and run” is an instance where a driver causes an accident and does not stop at the scene to identify themselves or call for help.

According to the law of most states, it is not relevant if you caused the incident or not. When involved in an accident, you must remain at the scene until the authorities arrive. However, if you leave the stage to get help, and quickly return, you’re in the clear. Some states such as Maryland classify hit and run accidents those that result in human casualties or property damages. Minor collisions are left aside.

What’s the Criminal Penalty?

The penalties for hit and runs depend on each state’s regulations. Many of them consider these incidents either as felonies or misdemeanors, but they take into consideration the circumstances of the accident to determine it.

A hit and run is generally considered a felony when there is a person injured as a result, regardless if it’s a pedestrian or a passenger in the hit vehicle. As such, the penalties can be very severe, even between $5,000 and $20,000. Moreover, depending on the degree of the injury, there is also the possibility of incarceration of up to 15 years in prison.

However, if the consequences of the incidents are not severe, the hit and run and be considered a misdemeanor. But even then it’s possible that you will have to pay a fine up to $5,000, and some jail time might be required, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

What’s the Administrative Penalty?

Apart from the criminal penalties of the hit and run, many states can also impose a set of administrative penalties for the offense. For instance, in many cases, a hit and run incident may result in the driver’s license suspension or even revocation for six months or more. If the accident resulted in a person’s death, the license could be revoked for life.

These penalties often come in addition to the criminal punishments that the states impose.

Insurance Issues

In addition to the legal troubles, many insurance companies have a fine print that enables them to cancel vehicle policies for drivers who commit hit and run accidents. If so, the driver has to pay for damages out of their pocket, even if under normal circumstances the insurance would have covered it.

Lessons Learned

If you’re ever involved in the accident, do not flee the scene, even if you are not responsible for it. You must report any incident, and wait for the proper authorities to arrive and take your statement. The repercussions of a hit and run can be extremely drastic in some states. If you stay and face the consequences, you at least have a fighting chance, and will be able to defend yourself should any legal actions be taken against you.

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