Alabama Hit and Run Laws: Can you be charged with leaving the scene of an accident?
- Alabama Hit and Run Laws: Can you be charged with leaving the scene of an accident?
- Alabama code title 32. Motor Vehicles and traffic
- What if the accident does not involve injury or death?
- What if the other party doesn’t have insurance?
- What to do after a hit and run in Alabama
- What is the charge for leaving the scene of an accident in a hit and run crash?
- Is hit and run a felony in Alabama?
- What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident?
- Alabama hit and run laws and “Contributory Negligence rule”
- How is fault determined in a car accident in Alabama?
- What is the statute of limitations on car accidents in Alabama?
- Alabama hit and run defenses
Under Alabama law, leaving the scene of an accident is a class C felony if anyone suffered injury or death. The punishment is up to ten years in prison and a fine.
- Leaving the scene of an accident is a felony in Alabama.
- State law requires you to provide reasonable assistance to anyone who suffers injury.
- Do not move the vehicle if the accident resulted in serious injury or death.
- One legal defense is that you were not driving the vehicle at the time of the incident.
- Alabama hit and run laws do not prevent prosecutors from pursuing other charges.
Alabama code title 32. Motor Vehicles and traffic
State statute 32-10-1 requires the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in death, injury, or property damage to stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the individual gives the following information to the injured person, occupant, person attending to the vehicle or law enforcement:
- Name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle.
- Drivers’ license.
- Other relevant information such as insurance information.
32-10-2 requires you to render reasonable medical assistance to any person involved in the accident. This includes planning for transportation of the injured party to a hospital.
What if the accident does not involve injury or death?
If there is no death or injury and the driver was not under the influence of anything, the statute requires the driver to move the vehicle from the roadway to the shoulder or other suitable location. Note that you must remain at the accident scene or close by. Remember, code title 32 does not allow anyone to stop, stand, or park a vehicle in a way that the vehicle interferes with traffic unless it is an emergency.
If the accident resulted in death or injury, do not move the vehicle unless instructed by law enforcement or emergency workers.
In short, whenever there is an accident in Alabama, you must remain at the scene until you have cleared with the injured person and law enforcement.
What should I do if someone hits my car and runs in Alabama?
Remember, the law requires the other party to provide the information above. Therefore, if you are the victim or witness to a hit and run, it is in your best legal interest to collect as much information as you can.
Get the number plate, contact details, physical details, car’s colour and make, the driver’s description, and so on.
If you have a camera or smartphone, you should document the incident to make it easier for law enforcement.
Important: Do not take the law into your hands; you do not know why someone might be fleeing the scene of an accident – it could be for nefarious reasons.
If the person that hits you chooses to run, pursuing the individual, damaging their property, or road rage may come back to haunt you. All you need do is contact law enforcement.
What if the other party doesn’t have insurance?
Section 32-7-23 says that an insured motorist has the legal right to recover damages from uninsured motorists. Furthermore, the claimant does not need to produce competent evidence apart from an accurate testimony of the events.
Alabama hit and run laws and phantom vehicle law
A “phantom” or an unknown vehicle is a vehicle that causes an accident without making physical contact with yours. An example of this would be someone running a red light forcing you to veer into a street pole. If a situation like this occurs, you may be covered by your uninsured motorist protection. However, this is not a sure thing as insurance companies like to dispute phantom vehicle claims without evidence, so make sure to gather some photographic evidence and additional eyewitness statements whenever possible. This is why it can be a good idea to have a dashcam installed on your vehicle.
*Note, under state law, it is unlawful to place anything, including a dashcam, on your vehicle’s windshield or anywhere where it may interfere with your view. Therefore, we recommend placing your dashcam on your dashboard so as not to obstruct your view.
Alabama code title 32: what to remember
- Do not leave the scene of an accident without authorization from law enforcement if the victim suffered an injury, property damage, or death.
- You have a legal obligation to assist the other driver or additional victims.
- If the accident does not result in death or injury, move the vehicle from the road so that it does not block traffic.
- If the accident results in death or injury, do not move the vehicle unless instructed by an employee of the Alabama department of transportation or state law enforcement agency.
- You may recover damages from a “Phantom” vehicle if the driver’s actions are the direct cause of the accident.
- Alabama’s department of transportation is not liable for any damages caused by moving a vehicle.
- The state shall revoke the driver’s license of anyone convicted under section 32-12-01.
What to do after a hit and run in Alabama
- Immediately stop when safe, do not flee or attempt to flee.
- Call 911 if anyone suffered an injury or needs assistance.
- Render reasonable assistance or make arrangements to move the victim to a hospital.
- Report the incident to law enforcement.
- Contact an experienced car accident attorney.
- Notify your insurance company.
- Call law enforcement or emergency services.
- Gather the fleeing driver’s information and damage to their vehicle.
- Report the incident to law enforcement.
- Contact an experienced car accident attorney.
- Notify your insurance company.
*Note – If you are a victim of a hit and run where you are unable to get the licence plate number, insurance information, or other info from the at fault driver, you may be eligible for uninsured motorist coverage (if your insurance has this coverage).
What is the charge for leaving the scene of an accident in a hit and run crash?
In Alabama, the at fault party involved in a hit and run accident risks criminal charges, and the victim may take civil action to recover damages.
If you do not pull over immediately after an accident in Alabama, you commit a felony that is punishable by up to ten years in prison. The court may also revoke your driver’s license and order a fine.
So how do you avoid criminal charges?
As mentioned, you have a legal responsibility to stop and render medical assistance to the victim (if safe). Doing that may prevent criminal charges if the cause of the accident was not negligence or driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Is hit and run a felony in Alabama?
The facts presented will determine if the hit and run is a felony or misdemeanor.
Hit and run resulting in death or injury in Alabama
If the driver was not under the influence, and the accident results in death or injury. Upon arrest, the driver is guilty of a class C felony, the penalty for which is a minimum sentence of one year and one day in jail and a maximum of ten years in prison. In addition, the sentence may include a $15000 fine.
Hit and run resulting in damage to property
Suppose the driver hits a vehicle driven or attended by a person resulting in property damage. In that case, the driver is guilty of a class A misdemeanor -punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $6000.
Hit and run unattended vehicle
In Alabama, hitting an unattended vehicle is a class A misdemeanor – punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a $6000 fine.
The hit and run driver may also experience licence revocation and additional charges, including:
- Causing Bodily injury
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Reckless driving
Why do people commit hit and runs?
There may be additional danger involved if you attempt to chase someone who has committed a hit and run as the reason they flee the accident is often due to committing a further violation such as:
- Drunk driving
- Using drugs
- They may have had their licence revoked or be driving on a suspended licence
- Active warrant for their arrest
- Illegal items such as unregistered firearms, drugs, or drug paraphenalia
- Not insured
- They may be driving a company car and afraid take responsibility
- Stolen vehicle
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident?
If you flee an accident scene where no one suffered an injury, you are guilty of a class A misdemeanor. The charges escalate to a felony if the victim suffered injury or death or if the driver was under the influence. Remember, Alabama is not a no-fault state, meaning the person who caused the accident is liable for compensating the victim.
You have the option to file a claim with your insurer, the other driver’s insurer, or you may file a personal injury claim.
The point is- if you are at fault or the victim of a hit and run. You should consult with an attorney to plan your next move.
Alabama hit and run laws and “Contributory Negligence rule”
Alabama is one of only five states that follow the Contributory Negligence Rule. The rule has three elements, duty, breach, and causation. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff. Meaning that if you can prove the other party was in some way responsible for causing the accident, then they may not recover any damages.
Alabama hit and run laws and negligence
If the victim chooses to take civil action against a hit and run driver, you must prove the following:
- Duty: the other party owed the victim a duty of care.
- Breach of duty: the accused failed to meet that duty. For example, the driver did not render any assistance or fled the scene.
- Cause in fact: your injury or loss is a result of the other party’s actions.
- Proximate cause: your injury was the direct result of the other party’s actions, not you or something else.
- Damages: you suffered an injury, property damage or other loss.
Alabama hit and run laws and negligence per se
If the hit and run driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident, you might have a negligence per se action against the driver. What is negligence per se? Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that states that an individual is guilty of violating a statute if the person violates a particular provision of the statute. Note: The law assumes that the person was negligent. Driving under the influence is a violation of state law, meaning if the driver was drunk, the victim may file a negligence claim.
How is fault determined in a car accident in Alabama?
The police report will tell you who is liable to pay after an accident. However, depending on the accident’s severity, insurers, accident investigators, and state regulators may also conduct their investigations. That is why it is vital to contact law enforcement and your insurance company after an accident. Investigators will use eyewitness accounts, witness statements, surveillance footage, and physical evidence to piece together who is at fault in a hit and run case.
What is the statute of limitations on car accidents in Alabama?
The statute of limitations of injuries to a person is two years, meaning you have two years to file a claim.
- Alabama’s statute of limitations on injury to a person is two years, so do not wait too long to act.
- Have an initial consultation with an accident lawyer before you talk with your insurer.
- Get medical help for anyone hurt.
If you are the victim of a hit and run, you may be able to get financial compensation for medical bills, lost income, rehabilitation, and more.
Alabama hit and run defenses
The facts presented will determine your defense strategy, meaning it is vital to contact a legal defense attorney.
- You were not driving the vehicle at the time of the crime.
- You had reported the car stolen.
Situations are different, so contact an experienced attorney before you admit to anything.
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