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If someone hit my car and I left the scene, could I get into trouble? People leave the scene after a Phoenix car accident for various reasons, such as the collision was not their fault, there is little to no property damage, they did not suffer injuries, or they just panicked.

However, leaving the scene constitutes a hit-and-run accident, which comes with various penalties. If you left the scene, there are some things to consider.

Someone Hit My Car and I Left the Scene: Is That Bad?

Someone hit my car and i left the scene

When someone flees the scene of an accident before exchanging information with the other driver, this constitutes a hit-and-run.

No matter who is at fault for the accident, all involved parties must remain at the scene. You may think that because the other person ran into you, you do not have to stay. However, there are many reasons why leaving could have serious consequences for you.

Even if you did not receive any injuries, there is a possibility that the driver or a passenger in the other vehicle did. By leaving this injured individual at the scene, there is a chance they will not get the timely medical treatment needed, and the injuries could become more severe as a result.

Even if your vehicle did not receive damage, the other vehicle may have. If it cannot operate because of the extent of the damage, the driver may not be able to leave the area. If it is in a location with little to no cell service, or if the driver’s phone is out of battery, it could be a long time before anyone comes along to help.

There is also the consideration of finding fault. If you leave the scene, you cannot prove that the other driver was liable, which can have consequences. With many collision-caused injuries, it is common that you may not notice symptoms until hours or days after the accident. Arizona is an at-fault state, which means the at-fault party is responsible for paying for damages. If you abandon the accident, you will be liable for any expenses related to medical treatment or vehicle repair for both parties.

What Are the Legal Obligations After an Accident?

Arizona requires that all individuals directly involved in an accident stop and remain at the scene until they fulfill the necessary legal obligations. These duties include:

  • Exchanging information, such as your name, phone number, address, vehicle registration, driver’s license number, and insurance policy and provider contact information with the other parties involved
  • Leaving a note with contact information if the driver is not in the vehicle
  • Assisting injured individuals and ensuring they get medical help
  • Reporting the crash to law enforcement
  • Waiting for law enforcement individuals to arrive and answering their questions

If one or more of the drivers do not follow these requirements, there may be legal implications.

What Are the Penalties for Leaving the Accident Scene?

A woman examines her car after a hit and run.

In the case of a hit-and-run accident, authorities do their best to discover the identity of the person who left the scene. If this occurs, there are various penalties that the driver may face depending on the severity of the accident.

If you left the scene and the other party experienced physical damage to the car but no bodily injury, you could face a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties of which are a fine of up to $2,500, jail time of up to 6 months, or both. You may also face license suspension.

If the other party had non-serious injuries, you could face a class 5 felony. These penalties of a class 5 felony are fines of up to $150,000, prison time between six months and 2.5 years, or both.

If the other party had serious or fatal injuries, the hit-and-run is a class 3 felony. Penalties include fines of up to $150,000, prison time between 2 and 8.75 years, or both. If the other party can prove that you caused the accident, it is a class 2 felony, which includes fines, prison time between 3 and 12.5 years, or both.

You may also face civil charges for injuries sustained by the other driver or passengers in the vehicle. If they can prove their case, it could cost you a lot of money for related expenses.

Are There Valid Reasons for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

A woman reports an accident

There are certain exceptions to the requirement of remaining at the scene. For example, if you cannot call for help, you may leave temporarily to seek medical or law enforcement assistance.

You may also leave the scene of a crash if you are in danger. This may mean that both vehicles move to a safer location.

There may also be an incidence in which the other driver becomes agitated or aggressive and you do not feel safe around this individual. If this is the case, you can leave the scene; however, you should call 911 to report the accident and explain your reason for not remaining. The police officer can inform you how to proceed so it does not constitute a hit-and-run.

Perhaps you panicked or did not feel you needed to stay since the accident was not your fault. For either reason, there are a couple of things you can do to mitigate legal consequences.

If it has been only a short time since the accident occurred, you may return to the scene to exchange information. If it has been several hours or a couple of days, it may be a good idea to turn yourself in and explain why you did not remain at the scene, as this may prevent hit-and-run charges.

Who Should I Contact if Someone Hit My Car and I Left the Scene?

If you left the scene of an accident or if the other party left after the collision, the Phoenix car accident attorneys at Sargon Law Group may be able to help. Contact us as soon as possible, and we will review your case to see if we can take legal action against the other party for any physical or bodily damages.