Just a few years ago, everyone’s approach to driving was different. People ran red lights, drove at careless speeds, and tried to avoid crashing into things by any means necessary. But now, with most states adopting stricter laws and driving culture slowly changing, some people don’t know what to do when they crash into something – whether it be a pole or another car- unlike the old days where someone would get out of their smoldering wreckage and leave.
When people hear the phrase “hit and run,” they often associate it with running into another car on the road and driving away. While this is true, the law applies to various actions. For instance, if you hit a concrete pole and left the scene, you have committed a hit and run. In this situation, you are not supposed to leave the scene. The law requires that you stop, contact the law enforcement officer, and provide your details.
Criminal consequences of hitting a concrete pole (and damaging it) before leaving the scene.
Leaving the site of an accident that caused damage to another vehicle or piece of property is against the law, according to section 24(2) (a) of Chapter 90. The law mandates that the motorist stop at the scene of the collision and give the responding police officer his identity, address, and car registration number. This provision was implemented to make finding the person who caused the accident simple.
The criminal charges for hit and run vary depending on the state. Depending on the severity of the situation, a hit-and-run violation can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Most states define felony hit-and-run as leaving the scene of an accident involving any kind of injury to a person, whether the injured party is a pedestrian, driver, or passenger of a vehicle.
A hit-and-run crime carries a very real risk of imprisonment as a penalty. Some states have felony hit-and-run penalties of up to 15 years in jail or state penalties of up to $20,000, depending on the accident’s circumstances and the damages caused. In most states, misdemeanors are punished by a hefty fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.
Consequences under administrative law
Most states also impose administrative fines that have to do with your driver’s license in addition to the criminal penalties for hit-and-run. These fines are often levied by each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Your driver’s license will be automatically suspended or revoked for around six months after being found guilty of any hit-and-run offense, whether a felony or a misdemeanor. The period of suspension may be up to three years in some states.
You may face civil consequences for negligently causing damage to property such as concrete poles. If you do not pay for your damages, the owner of the concrete pole can take you to court and sue you in civil court. The owner may sue you for punitive or treble damages.
Punitive damages are granted in court to the plaintiff, but they are not intended to compensate the plaintiff for their losses. Instead, they’re intended to penalize a defendant for engaging in an egregious activity.
Punitive damages signify a court’s distrust of a defendant’s ability to pay the legal fees and the court’s desire to discourage others from engaging in similar misconduct. In these cases, the defendant will be required to pay their legal fees and the plaintiff’s punitive damages award.
Treble damages are awarded when someone did not follow their probationary responsibilities or when they intentionally followed the rules only halfway. If someone commits an act of defamation or libel on something you own and it causes injury, then they will be liable for treble damages for this action.
In case someone intentionally rips off your property and is legally liable for damages, they will be liable for treble damages.
When legislation calls for or permits it, the plaintiff will receive triple the original amount of treble damages. As an illustration, if a jury awards the plaintiff $5,000 in damages in a civil lawsuit, legislation governing hit-and-run fines may empower the court to triple that amount to $15,000 since the hit-and-run constitutes extremely careless and heinous behavior.
Punitive and triple damages are often not covered by your auto insurance policy. To put it another way, you will be responsible for paying that sum yourself.
Talk with an attorney
Lastly, one of the things to remember is that it’s always important to speak with an attorney. Do this before ever speaking with the police. They can help you better understand your rights and options. If you feel you’ve been a victim of a crime, you will have all the information necessary to start taking action.
An attorney can also help protect your interests. They can make sure all information is relayed accurately so that later on in court, if there is a dispute over facts or if any evidence has been mishandled, they will be able to point out any problems and discredit certain witnesses who may have unfavorably influenced your case.