Hit-and-run accidents are treated seriously under Arizona law. Leaving the scene of a car accident can lead to serious fines, having your license suspended, and even jail time. So, if you’re involved in an accident in Flagstaff, Arizona, or anywhere else in the state, it’s important to understand the law so you know what to do in a hit-and-run incident (and what you definitely shouldn’t do).
You don’t have to injure a person or cause serious vehicular damage to be charged with a causing an crash and not stopping in Arizona, so some drivers may be charged without realizing they’ve committed a crime. Even hitting a parked vehicle and leaving could lead to class 2 misdemeanor hit-and-run charges. In fact, of the more than 15,000 hit-and-runs in 2019 in Arizona, over 12,000 involved only property damage.
What is a Hit and Run?
A hit-and-run is a crime where a driver collides with another vehicle, property, or human being, then leaves the scene without fulfilling their legally obligated duties. All states have laws that cover hit-and-run accidents, and the definition generally doesn’t examine a person’s fault in the accident. Instead, the violation occurs when a person leaves the scene, regardless of whether they caused the collision. In most states, there are exceptions for drivers who temporarily leave to get emergency help.
Most states assess fines for hitting another car and not staying on scene and may suspend the licenses of hit-and-run drivers. States may also sentence those who commit car crash crimes and take off to jail time. Whether a hit-and-run is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony often depends on the details of the accident. Felony hit-and-runs are likely to be those where drugs or alcohol were involved or where others were injured or killed.
Arizona Hit and Run Law
A driver that collides with an unattended vehicle is required to stop immediately, notify the vehicle’s owner or operator, and provide them with their name and address. If the damaged vehicle’s owner cannot be identified or found, the driver may leave a note containing their name and address in a conspicuous place on the vehicle they struck. Failure to do either of these things is a class 3 misdemeanor under Arizona law.
A driver in Arizona who is involved in an accident that causes injury, death, or damage to an occupied or attended vehicle must immediately stop at the accident scene or as close to it as possible, and:
- Provide their name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle they were driving at the time of the accident
- If requested, show their driver’s license to the driver or occupants of the vehicle they struck
Anyone who fails to comply with either of these two requirements is guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona.
Arizona’s hit-and-run laws also require drivers involved in accidents to provide reasonable assistance to others involved who may have sustained injuries or there’s a fatality, including calling 911. If they fail to do so, they are guilty of a class 6 felony.
What to do After a Hit and Run Accident
If you are involved in an accident, the first thing you need to do is STOP. It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident in Flagstaff, Arizona, or elsewhere in the state, even if you are ignorant of the law. If you, your passengers, or others involved in the accident are injured, you should call emergency services immediately rather than attempting to drive to the nearest hospital. You should also contact the police immediately so they can file a report.
Attempt to Identify the Other Driver
As long as you are not injured, you should try to collect as much information as possible, including the other driver’s identity. If they have remained at the site of the scene, a police officer should collect information from both of you when they arrive. Unfortunately, it can be more challenging for you to identify them if they have fled the scene. However, police can often use traffic cameras, witness statements, and the details you provide to identify and apprehend hit-and-run drivers in Arizona.
If you aren’t wounded, you should also take photographs from the scene, including intersections, traffic lights, stop signs, and any damage to your vehicle. If you can, write down the information you remember about the circumstances as well as any details about the other vehicle or the driver that might help police locate them. Take note of the time of day, weather conditions, and anything else that you notice.
If there are witnesses, ask for their names and contact information, so the police or your lawyer may contact them, if necessary.
If the driver was driving drunk, impaired/intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs, he/she may be charged with impairment or felony DUI, depending on the circumstances. If it’s the driver’s second or third DUI, they could be facing serious consequences, especially if there is loss of life.
Seek Medical Treatment for Your Injuries
If you or anyone else involved are hurt, you should immediately seek medical treatment. Even injuries that don’t seem serious at first should be examined by a professional. Make sure you keep records of the treatment you receive both immediately after the accident, as well as any ongoing appointments, surgeries, medications, or other treatments you receive due to the accident.
Some injuries, including soft tissue damage, concussions, and whiplash, may not be apparent immediately but can be detected during a proper examination by a doctor.
Understand How to Recover Damages From a Hit-and-run Crash
If the at-fault driver is caught, you can file a claim through their insurance provider to recover the costs of your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the police cannot locate the driver that caused your hit-and-run accident, your insurance provider may cover your damages if your policy has uninsured or underinsured coverage. You may also receive reimbursement for some damages through medical payment insurance or collision insurance.
Claims requirements and deadlines are often challenging to navigate, though, making it challenging for many to get their hit-and-run claims approved without assistance. If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run wreck in Arizona, you may benefit from speaking with a hit-and-run accident attorney. They can help you understand the law and any compensation you may be owed and can also help you file your hit-and-run accident claim with your insurance provider or the provider of the at-fault driver.
Speak With the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Antol and Sherman in Flagstaff, AZ
Hit-and-run accident claims can be challenging when the at-fault driver can’t be found and apprehended. When another driver hits you, your vehicle, or your property, and flees the very first thing you should do is call the police. They may be able to identify the driver based on details you provide them or access video surveillance from the area that will help them locate them. Even if the police cannot find the at-fault driver, you may still have options for financial recovery.
The experienced personal injury lawyers at Antol & Sherman PC in Flagstaff, Arizona, are dedicated, experienced advocates with decades of experience securing justice and compensation for victims of hit-and-run accidents, including those where someone died. If you or your loved one has been injured in a hit-and-run accident, you should seek immediate medical attention. Then, get in touch with one of the proven, trusted hit-and-run accident lawyers at Antol & Sherman to help you get the compensation you need and deserve to cover your medical bills, lost wages, trauma experienced, and more.