The recent news of a serious hit-and-run collision between a produce truck and a MetroLink train in Southern California has prompted many to ask: what are a driver’s obligations after an accident? How is someone charged with committing a hit-and-run?
In the MetroLink accident, a train traveling to Los Angeles at 80 miles per hour collided with a pickup truck pulling a trailer. The driver had turned onto the tracks (likely by accident), then jumped out of his vehicle and walked away before the accident occurred. No one was killed, although dozens of people were injured.
What is a person to do after being involved in an accident?
A driver’s obligations after being in an accident include the following:
– Immediately stop your car at the scene
– Provide your identifying information, as well information of any injured passengers to the other driver and any law enforcement. You should include names, addresses, registration, and the name/current address of the owner (if you were driving someone else’s car)
– Provide reasonable assistance to injured persons to secure medical attention
– Provide your driver’s license and other identifying information on request.
– If the accident results in death and no law enforcement officer arrives at the scene, you are also required to contact the local police department or California Highway Patrol.
These requirements apply to everyone at the scene, regardless of who is at fault for the accident and the seriousness of the injury or injuries.
In the Metrolink accident, police caught the driver a short way away from the railroad tracks, where he appeared distressed and was speaking on a cell phone. The driver is now being charged with a felony hit-and-run. If you or a loved one was injured in a hit and run accident, contact a knowledgeable Woodland Hills hit and run lawyer.
Criminal Charges for Hit and Runs
Prosecutors generally charge a hit and run driver with a misdemeanor if no one else was hurt and only property was damaged. However, if a person other than the driver was injured or killed, the California Vehicle Code allows prosecutors to charge the driver with a felony. Prosecutors can decide how to charge a driver, usually depending on the facts of the case and the driver’s criminal history. A driver can be charged with felony hit and run even if the other driver was entirely at fault in the accident and no one was really to blame for it. This is because, as described above, every person involved in an accident has certain obligations at the scene to not only exchange information but also to ensure reasonable assistance for injured passengers and others. For more information on what to do in the minutes and hours following an auto accident in Woodland Hills, click here.
To discuss recovering potential financial compensation for injuries you sustained in a Woodland Hills auto accident, contact experienced personal injury attorney Barry P. Goldberg today.