Vehicle accidents are often devastating for those involved. Injury and property damage victims have a hard enough time dealing with aggressive insurance carriers when it comes to securing compensation for their losses. However, recovering compensation will be even more challenging when a hit-and-run accident occurs. Here, our local Phoenix car accident lawyers want to define what a hit-and-run accident is and discuss the laws in Arizona surrounding these incidents.
It goes without saying that leaving the scene of an accident in Arizona is against the law. While this may seem logical to most people, the reality is that the waters can get muddied when it comes to defining “leaving the scene.”
Clearly, if one driver strikes another vehicle and causes damage or injuries and then leaves the scene without stopping, this is an illegal hit and run. However, hit and run cases become less cut and dry for instances involving drivers who stop, check on people, then leave without waiting for police or handing over any of their information to others involved.
Under Arizona’s laws, drivers involved in an accident have a duty to remain at the scene of the crash, exchange information with other drivers, and display their driver’s license upon request. If an accident involves injuries, drivers are responsible for providing reasonable assistance, which can include notifying emergency medical services and calling all enforcement.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run – ARS 28-662: Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Only Involves Vehicle Damage. Drivers are still required to stop and remain at the scene of a crash even if there are no injuries and there is only vehicle damage. Drivers are required to exchange requisite information, including their driver’s license number, name, and insurance information. Violation of this law could result in a Class 2 misdemeanor charge.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run – ARS 28-664: Leaving the Scene after Hitting a Parked Vehicle. Striking a parked vehicle is not uncommon, particularly when vehicles are parked on the roadside or in parking lots. In these cases, drivers responsible are supposed to try to locate the owner of the parked car and provide their name and address. If this is not possible, a driver is supposed to leave a conspicuous note that provides their name and address. A violation of this law could result in a Class 3 misdemeanor charge.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run – ARS 28–665: Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Results in Damage to Non-Vehicle Property. If a person strikes property other than a vehicle and leaves the scene, this could still result in a Class 3 misdemeanor charge. Drivers in these situations are required to stop, take reasonable steps to notify the property owner, and provide their name, address, and vehicle information. Some of the most common types of property struck in these situations include fences, mailboxes, signs, etc.
Felony Hit and Run – ARS 28-661: Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Results in Injury or Death. Drivers involved in accidents that result in an injury or death must remain at the scene. Drivers have to provide their name, address, and driver’s license information. In addition, drivers must render reasonable assistance to any injury victim and help coordinate medical transportation and notify police. Causing a crash and leaving the scene of an accident involving serious injury or death can result in the driver facing a Class 2 felony offense. Even if a driver did not cause an accident resulting in a serious injury or death but still left the scene, they could face a Class 3 felony charge.
According to data available from the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were more than 15,000 total hit and run accidents across the state during the latest reporting year. Out of these incidents, there were 62 fatalities and 3,439 injuries.