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Hit and Run Accidents in Delaware: Laws Penalties and What to Do

Hit and Run Accidents: Understanding Delaware Laws and Penalties

Being involved in a car accident can be a harrowing experience, but the worst case scenario is when a driver flees the scene. Hit and run accidents are a serious crime, and those who do not report or remain at the scene can face steep penalties.

In Delaware, the law takes these incidents seriously to ensure that justice is served and that victims receive due compensation.

Reporting and Remaining at the Scene

The first and most crucial thing that a driver should do in a hit and run accident is to remain at the scene. In Delaware, it is a legal obligation to report a collision to law enforcement.

Failing to do so can result in criminal charges. Not only is it ethically correct to assist those who are hurt, but it is also a criminal offense to leave the scene of an accident that has caused injuries or death.

In accordance with Sections 4201 through 4203 of the Delaware Code, anyone involved in a collision is required to stop, give information about their identity, exhibit the driver’s license, and render assistance. Furthermore, if the accident caused property damage, the driver is expected to make a reasonable effort to notify the property owner and provide insurance information.

Consequences of Fleeing the Scene

For those who flee the scene and fail to report an accident, there are very serious consequences. Whether intentional or not, the act of hit and run can carry heavy criminal penalties.

In Delaware, a hit and run is considered a misdemeanor, and if the driver is caught, they may be fined or imprisoned. In addition to these legal consequences, those who flee the scene can also face the wrath of the victim, whose injuries may have been more severe than necessary due to the lack of assistance.

In cases where the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and hits a pedestrian or another vehicle, the penalties become much harsher. The crime is elevated to a felony, and the driver can face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, as well as the revocation of their driving privileges.

Property Damage Accidents

If a hit and run accident caused only property damage, the consequences are not as severe, but the driver is still required by law to make a reasonable effort to locate the owner of the property or leave a note with contact information. In a hit and run involving only property damage, the driver cannot be charged with a felony, but they can still face a misdemeanor charge.

Duty to Report Collisions

Under Delaware law, individuals involved in collisions must report them to the police authorities. Failure to report a collision is a criminal offense, and the driver can face steep legal penalties.

Additionally, if the driver leaves the scene of a collision, it will be presumed that they were responsible for the collision.

Sections 4201 through 4203 Requirements

The requirements set out in Delaware Code Sections 4201 through 4203 are there to ensure that those involved in a collision have a legal and ethical obligation to assist as needed. The driver must stay at the scene of the accident and offer assistance to those who are hurt.

They must also provide the necessary information to any other parties involved.

Penalties for Hit and Run

The penalties for hit and run accidents in Delaware depend on the severity of the accident and the degree of intention on the part of the driver. If a driver is involved in a hit and run with injury or death caused, they may face an unclassified misdemeanor charge, a fine of up to $5,000, up to one year in prison, as well as the revocation of their driving privileges.

Escalation to Felonies

If a driver is suspected of fleeing the scene of an accident involving vehicular manslaughter, homicide, driving under the influence (DUI), or reckless driving, the charges will be elevated to a felony. Factors such as fleeing from police or having a motive for leaving the scene can also contribute to the decision to elevate charges.

A convicted felon will face much harsher legal penalties, which could include substantial fines, a lengthy prison term, and the revocation of driving privileges.

Fault Determination in Delaware

In Delaware, the modified comparative negligence rule is used to determine fault in a car accident. In other words, if any person is found to be responsible for over 50% of the fault for the accident, they will not receive any compensation.

The degree to which each party is responsible for the accident will determine the percentage of the compensation they will receive. Those who have admitted fault may face legal consequences in addition to the penalties for the hit and run.

Conclusion

A hit and run accident is a serious crime with significant legal, ethical, and financial ramifications. Being involved in such an incident can be frightening to the driver who may worry about possible legal repercussions, but it is important for them to remember their legal obligation to remain at the scene, render assistance and report the incident to authorities.

Those who flee the scene of an accident can face serious criminal charges in Delaware, including fines, imprisonment, and loss of driving privileges. It is essential to be aware of these laws and regulations and to comply with them.

Statute of Limitations and

What to Do After a Hit and Run

If you are involved in a hit and run accident in Delaware, it is essential to take the right steps to help ensure that justice is served. This includes reporting the accident, gathering evidence, and seeking legal assistance.

Below is a detailed guide on what you need to know about the statute of limitations and what to do after a hit and run in Delaware.

Statute of Limitations on Hit and Run

In Delaware, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases stemming from a hit and run accident is generally two years from the date of the accident. Once this period has passed, you may no longer be able to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident.

However, it’s best to consult with a personal injury attorney to ensure that you are taking the right steps within the required time frame. It’s important to remember that the statute of limitations applies only to filing a lawsuit in court.

In some cases, you may be able to pursue alternative dispute resolution options during the statutory period, such as mediation.

What to Do After a Hit and Run

If you are involved in a hit and run accident, there are several steps you should take to help ensure that justice is served. Here are some tips:

1.

Document the Accident: If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries you or your passengers may have sustained. This evidence can be crucial for a personal injury claim.

2. Gather Witness Information: If there were any witnesses to the accident, be sure to get their names and contact information.

Witness statements can be used to support your version of events. 3.

Call an Attorney: Consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and work to ensure that you receive adequate compensation for your injuries and damages.

4. Contact Your Insurance Company: Notify your insurance company of the accident, even if you do not have the information of the responsible party.

They may be able to help you in ways you may not expect. 5.

Do Not Admit Fault: It is important not to admit fault or liability for the accident, as this can hurt your case.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, is a process used to resolve legal disputes without going to trial. ADR can be an effective way to resolve hit and run accidents in Delaware, as it allows the parties involved to come to an agreement without having to go through a lengthy and costly trial.

Mediation can effectively serve as a way of creating an agreement that leaves both parties happy with the resolution of the issue.

Delaware Hit and Run Defenses

Sometimes, drivers may have a valid defense for leaving the scene of an accident. Two common defenses to hit and run charges are fear for safety and a lack of knowledge about the accident.

1. Fear for Safety: Drivers may feel their safety is at risk when they stop after an accident.

For example, the other driver may be angry or aggressive, creating an unsafe environment for everyone involved. 2.

A Lack of Knowledge: In certain situations, the driver may not have realized that they hit something or someone. This could be the case if the driver didnt feel a significant jolt or if there were no visible signs of damage.

It is important to note that while these defenses may be accepted in certain circumstances, they are not a guaranteed path to dropping all charges. The driver must have unique and provable facts about not being aware of the accident and genuinely fearful for their life if they hope to avoid its consequences entirely.

Conclusion

If you are involved in a hit and run accident, it is crucial to act quickly and take the right steps to ensure that justice is served. This includes reporting the accident, gathering evidence, and seeking legal assistance.

Hiring a personal injury attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected, maximizing your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and damages. Remember, the statute of limitations applies to the time you have to file a lawsuit, but there are other ways to address the situation throughout that period.

In summary, hit and run accidents are serious crimes that can have dire legal, ethical, and financial implications. In Delaware, specific laws and penalties exist to deter drivers from fleeing the scene of such accidents.

It is a driver’s legal obligation to report collisions and render assistance. Failure to comply with this obligation can result in criminal charges, fines, imprisonment, and the revocation of driving privileges.

If you are involved in a hit and run accident, it is crucial to document the accident, gather witness information, seek legal assistance, contact your insurance company, and refrain from admitting fault. The statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is two years, however, alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, can be utilized before this time frame ends.

By following proper procedures, you can ensure your protection, receive compensation for damages and avoid legal repercussions.

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