Hit and run car accidents occur when the driver of one vehicle hits another motorist, cyclist or pedestrian and then flees the scene without taking responsibility for their actions following an accident. When a driver flees the scene without providing assistance or insurance information to the injured parties, the results can be even more devastating and stressful for the victim than just being in a car accident.
Hit and run car accidents make up for nearly 11 percent of all crashes, 6 percent of all injuries and 5 percent of all traffic fatalities alone, making these types of collisions more common—and more serious—than you may think.
Hearne & Bailey, P.A. places a high emphasis on personal attention and professional experience in each case we represent, and hit and run car accidents are no different. By knowing the facts about hit and run accidents in Maryland—as well as what to do if you are involved in a hit and run accident—our hope is to help create safer roads for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.
Hit & Run Statistics
- In 2017, Maryland saw 114,848 car accidents across the state. These accidents resulted in 557 fatalities and 51,182 injuries that year.
- Across the U.S., a hit and run accident happens approximately once every 43 seconds.
- 2049 people were killed in hit and run accidents in 2016—a 62 percent increase from 2009.
- 65 percent of victims in hit and run accidents are pedestrians or cyclists.
- Nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the last decade have been caused by hit and run accidents.
- By comparison, hit and run accidents comprise only one percent of driver fatalities.
When Am I Required to Stop and Remain at an Accident Scene?
If you are involved in a car accident in Maryland, state law requires that drivers or other involved parties stop in order to report information or render aid to those injured, even if these injuries are minor in nature.
Drivers are required to stop their vehicle (without obstructing traffic unnecessarily) and at least report their information to other involved parties if the accident results in:
- Harm or injury to another person;
- Death of another person; or
- Property damage.
Because of Maryland’s strict traffic laws surrounding post-accident etiquette, drivers who do not stop to at least provide relevant insurance and incidental information following a hit and run accident can face severe penalties if they are identified at a later date.
What are the Penalties of Leaving an Accident Scene?
In Maryland, drivers can face severe penalties in the form of fines and potential jail time for leaving the scene of an accident. Maryland law requires that each driver involved in an accident must immediately stop and remain at the scene until instructed to leave under penalty of law. Depending on the type and severity of damage caused as the result of an accident, these penalties can vary:
- If a driver flees the scene of an accident resulting in property damage, they may face up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500, or both. Drivers may also receive up to 8 points on their driver record if convicted, which results in an automatic license suspension.
- If a driver flees the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury to another person, they are guilty of a felony and if convicted, may face up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5000, or both.
- If a driver flees the scene of an accident resulting the death of another person, they are guilty of a felony and if convicted, may face up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10000, or both.
How Can I Avoid a Hit and Run Conviction?
The simplest way to avoid a hit and run conviction is to be as safe of a driver as possible and avoid behaviors which may contribute to car accidents. Distracted driving, for instance, results in 183 fatalities and over 27000 injuries each year in Maryland alone. By paying attention to the road as much as possible while practicing Defensive Driving, the risk of an accident is lessened considerably.
If you are involved in a hit and run accident as a driver, immediately stop your vehicle to assess the damage and severity of the scene and call your insurance provider. If you have only caused property damage, try to locate the owner of the property in order to present them your contact and insurance information right away. If the accident occurred when no one was present, and the owner is unable to be found, leave a note at the scene with your information to avoid any hit and run charges.
If severe bodily injury or death has resulted from an accident, provide your contact and insurance information to anyone involved in the accident and remain on the scene until law enforcement officers and medical personnel arrive. Gather witness statements and contact information, as well as photos of the accident scene, for your own records in order to ensure that you have evidence for yourself while filing claims and proceedings following the accident.
If you are the victim of a hit and run accident, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible. Assess the extent of your injuries and, if possible, try to remember any details you can regarding the type of car, the profile of the driver or the circumstances leading up to and immediately following the accident while filing a report. While identifying a negligent driver is most ideal, you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries even if the driver is never found.
Contact an Experienced Hit and Run Car Accident Lawyer
Hit and run car accidents can be among the most stressful kinds of car accidents due to the sheer uncertainty of identifying the driver responsible. Being convicted of a hit and run accident, however, can also carry severe penalties in form of fines, jail time and permanent marks on your driver record. In either scenario, it may seem like the odds are against you at every step of the way. Fortunately, legal options exist.
If you have been identified as the driver in a hit and run accident, or you are the victim of a hit and run accident wanting to seek justice and recover damages for your injuries, Hearne & Bailey, P.A. is here to help. With decades of experience and a deep understanding of Maryland’s transportation laws, we are confident in our ability to assist you and address your legal concerns. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please contact us today.