New Jersey Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- New Jersey Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- What Happens if you Leave the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey?
- Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Misdemeanor in New Jersey?
- Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Felony in New Jersey?
- What is the Penalty for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey?
- How is Fault Determined in New Jersey?
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey: Defenses
The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey is up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $5000. In addition, if anyone suffers injury or death, a hit-and-run becomes a felony.
Quick take: leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey
- Stopping and rendering aid is a legal requirement.
- Conviction under New Jersey hit and run laws will result in license suspension or revocation.
- Reckless driving and DUI hit and run may constitute vehicular homicide.
- New Jersey is an at fault state.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage is a misdemeanor. If anyone dies or suffers injury, the crime escalates into a felony.
- The statute of limitations on personal injury in New Jersey is two years. For property damage, you have six years to take civil action.
- 39:4-129 action in case of accident
What Happens if you Leave the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey?
New Jersey hit and run laws Section 39:4-129 “action in case of accident” states that whenever a driver in the state is involved in an accident, that individual must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene or close to the scene and remain there until you fulfill the requirements of section C.
Your legal obligations at the scene of an accident in New Jersey
- Give your name, address, and exhibit your driver’s license to the struck person or struck property owner.
- You or a passenger in your vehicle must render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it upon request or if it is apparent an individual needs it.
- You must notify law enforcement if the accident results in death, injury, or property damage.
- Exchange insurance information.
Section 1 of the statute requires the court to suspend the driver’s license of anyone convicted under the statute for up to one year. In addition, if the convicted person commits a subsequent hit and run, the court may suspend the individual’s driving privileges permanently.
Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Misdemeanor in New Jersey?
Yes. Knowingly leaving the scene of an accident that involves property damage alone is a misdemeanor in New Jersey. For a first offense, and if the driver was not under the influence or driving recklessly, the penalty for property damage is a fine, not less than $200 and not more than $400. Depending on the facts presented, the court may jail the accused for not less than thirty days and not more than 90 days. For a subsequent offense, the fine is between $200 and $400, plus up to thirty days in jail and license suspension for up to six months.
On top of that, state law requires the court to suspend the individual’s driving license for up to six months.
Leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey involving property damage will add 2 demerit points on your license and 8 demerit points if anyone suffers death or injury.
Note that eluding the police in New Jersey is a third-degree crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
What Happens if you Hit an Unattended Vehicle in New Jersey?
State law requires you to make a reasonable effort to locate the struck vehicle or property owner. If you cannot locate the owner, you must attach a note on a conspicuous section of the struck vehicle containing your name, address, contact information, and vehicle registration. Do not forget, if the accident results in property damage amounting to $500 or more, you must notify law enforcement if you cannot find the owner of the struck vehicle or property.
What is a Reportable Accident in New Jersey?
Under state law, you must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage surpassing $500. NJSA 39:4-130. Requires you to report said types of accidents using the “quickest means of communication,” and you must submit an accident report within ten days of the accident.
What if you are unable to notify the police or file a report?
In such a scenario, the statute requires, quote:
“Whenever the driver of a vehicle is physically incapable of giving immediate notice or making a written report of an accident as required in this section and there was another occupant in the vehicle at the time of the accident capable of giving notice or making a report, such occupant shall make or cause to be made said notice or report not made by the driver.”
Under the statute, being unaware of the existence of a personal injury or property damage is not a defense, and the penalty for failure to file a report is a fine, not less than $30 and not more than $100.
Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Felony in New Jersey?
Yes. If the accident results in death or serious injury, you could be looking at third-degree criminal offense charges. “Serious injury” refers to any injury that puts the victim at significant risk of dying or creates the possibility of permanent damage. Examples include limb or organ loss, disfigurement, and facial damage.
Upon conviction, the penalty is five to ten years in prison, a fine, and license suspension or revocation.
Vehicular Manslaughter and Assault by Auto
Under section 2C:11-5, “Death by Auto or Vessel.”
“Criminal homicide constitutes vehicular homicide when it is caused by driving a vehicle or vessel recklessly.”
If you hit and kill a person while under the influence of alcohol or while driving recklessly, you may face vehicular homicide charges. Vehicular homicide is a second-degree crime in New Jersey, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $150000. If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, vehicular homicide escalates into a first-degree crime. A First-Degree Crime in New Jersey carries a maximum of twenty years in prison.
Note: section 1 of the statute reads in part:
“The term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term. The minimum term shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed by the court or three years, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole”
What is the Penalty for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey?
Under NJSA 39:4-129, leaving the scene of an accident without rendering reasonable aid or exchanging information with the other party is punishable by:
- Hit and run involving property damage: misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30-90 days in jail, and a fine between$200 to $400 for a first offense.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury: punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a maximum fine of $5000, plus license suspension or revocation.
- Vehicular manslaughter/ hit and run while driving recklessly or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol: first- or second-degree crime/felony, punishable by up to twenty years in prison and license suspension or revocation.
If the victim suffers injury, the driver may face vehicular assault charges.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New jersey: Administrative and Civil Penalties
If you sustain any injuries after a hit and run, you have the option to settle through negotiations or to file a civil lawsuit. Because of that, it is in your best interest to make sure that the police find the person that struck you or your vehicle. To that end, you should:
- Document everything at the scene including, driver description, car make, color, plates, and vehicle damage.
- If possible, take photos or dashcam footage.
- Get witness testimonies and contact information.
- Seek medical assistance before you comment about your health.
- Call the police immediately.
- Do not threaten or harm the other driver.
- Give a truthful account of the events and never admit fault.
For drivers, if you leave the scene, you must have a good reason in your defense. For example, maybe you felt that remaining at the scene would lead to more harm, or you were unaware of your involvement in an accident. Also, just like the victim, you should gather evidence at the scene, fulfill your legal obligations including rendering aid, remain at the scene until you exchange information, and do not admit fault.
How is Fault Determined in New Jersey?
New Jersey is a “no-fault” state, meaning – your insurer covers your injury.
The state has a “comparative fault rule” that allows victims or claimants to recover damages if their share of responsibility for the accident is less than 50%. Thus, if you are 50% responsible for the accident, you cannot recover damages. On the other hand, if you admit fault at the scene or in your police report, it may cost you compensation. Therefore, it is vital to watch what you say.
Tip: If the accident results in serious injury, death, or expensive property damage, you should call your lawyer immediately and avoid saying anything that may appear to be an admission of guilt, such as “I’m sorry” or “I did not see the person or vehicle” and so on.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey: Defenses
Before leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey, ensure that you exchange information with the struck person and offer reasonable assistance. That may help you avoid punitive damages. If you cannot fulfill these duties, you must have a good reason. For example, the victim threatened you. Or you were unaware of your involvement in a traffic collision.
Remember, each hit and run has a unique set of facts leading to the incident. Meaning the best way to strategize a defense is with an experienced attorney.
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