Do you need a hit and run attorney?
Many people believe “hit and run” only applies when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian and doesn’t stop. But the definition of a hit and run is much broader than that. A hit and run accident could involve intersections between traffic laws, personal injury law, and property damage.
The Greenwald Law Firm has extensive experience with car accidents of all kinds. Attorney Joseph Greenwald Jr. has nearly twenty years of experience practicing law in Louisiana and Mississippi. In this post, we will explore the nuances of the law surrounding hit and run accidents, how to beat a hit and run charge, and why you might need a hit and run attorney.
We will also focus specifically on hit and runs that the general public may not consider when they think of hit and run accidents: hit and runs that involve property damage and other vehicles.
What is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run accident occurs when the driver of a vehicle collides with something else and leaves the scene of the accident.
The object the vehicle collides with can be a pedestrian, another vehicle, a bicyclist, or even a piece of non-moveable property like a mailbox. When you strike something with your vehicle and leave the scene without leaving any identifying information, you have committed a hit and run. The law requires you to stay on the scene any time your vehicle collides with anything.
Hit and run charges are very serious. Depending on the result of the accident, it could be a felony or a misdemeanor. If a court charges you with a hit and run, you need a hit and run attorney.
What Am I Required To Do at the Scene of a Hit and Run?
In a hit and run car accident, a court can charge you with a hit and run even if you weren’t at fault.
Let’s say that another car ran a stop sign and struck your car in a residential neighborhood as you drove through an intersection. It wasn’t a hard impact, and your car seems to be fine. You drive away without getting out of the car.
Legally, you are not at fault for that accident. But you have committed a hit and run.
A court can also charge you with a hit and run if you don’t strike another vehicle. If you hit a mailbox on your way to work and don’t stop, that is a hit and run.
Parties in an accident must adhere to certain duties. These duties are:
- Remaining on the scene
- Seeing if anyone needs medical help
- Providing identifying information so there can be a determination of fault. This will also determine who needs to pay money for injury or damage.
Not providing identifying information can lead to criminal charges.
Each party to the accident should provide:
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information
- Name and contact information, and
- License plate number
You should take your own pictures of the accident scene as well.
In addition to getting the contact information of the other parties to the accident, you should also get the contact information of any witnesses around. Witnesses could establish that you weren’t at fault, or that other parties were at fault. A hit and run attorney like Joseph Greenwald Jr. can use all this information to help you overcome any serious property damage or personal injury lawsuits.
What are the Penalties for Hit and Run?
The penalties for a hit and run in Louisiana depend on the circumstances of the accident.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run
If there is no serious bodily injury to any people, the hit and run is likely to be a misdemeanor.
The court will fine a defendant in a misdemeanor hit and run $500 or less. There could be up to six months of jail time as well.
If there were alcohol or drugs involved in a Louisiana hit and run, there will be both a fine and mandatory jail time.
Felony Hit and Run
If there is death or serious bodily injury involved, the hit and run accident becomes a felony.
Fines could total up to $5000. A judge could also sentence a defendant to up to 10 years in prison.
The hit and run is most serious when it meets all the below conditions:
- Death or serious bodily injury was the result of the accident
- The driver knew or should have known that the vehicle they were operating was in an accident
- A court previously convicted the driver of a DWI, vehicular homicide, or vehicular negligent injuring.
If some or all of these conditions apply, the potential penalties for a hit and run could be very steep. You need a hit and run attorney.
How Do I Beat A Hit and Run Charge?
A hit and run attorney like Joseph Greenwald Jr. can use several legal defenses to overcome hit and run charges. Some of these legal defenses are:
Alright, so this one isn’t as likely to be successful as the others. But hit and run attorneys have used it successfully in the past.
This is the legal defense you would use if you believe someone drugged you. If someone drugged you, you became intoxicated as a result, and ended up in an accident, involuntary intoxication would be the relevant legal defense.
Response to an Emergency
If you become involved in an accident while you were driving to the hospital, for instance, and you keep driving, this becomes the relevant legal defense. This defense has been successful for hit and run attorneys like Joseph Greenwald Jr. in the past.
The best example of this is if you are driving a pregnant woman in labor to the hospital. If you get into a minor car accident and keep driving, a response to an emergency could be an appropriate legal defense.
Unaware of an Injury
Knowledge is an important part of establishing fault in an accident. If you have no knowledge of causing damage to any person or property, that could be an appropriate legal defense.
Contact the Greenwald Law Firm