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Understanding Hit and Run Laws in Vermont: Obligations Penalties and Defenses

Hit and Run Laws in Vermont

The sound of crunching metal is something nobody wants to hear. Car accidents can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Even the most cautious driver can find themselves involved in a collision due to factors beyond their control. What happens after an accident, however, is within the driver’s control.

In Vermont, hit and run laws are taken seriously. This article will answer common questions surrounding hit and run accidents in Vermont, including what a drivers legal obligations are after an accident, reporting requirements, and penalties for non-compliance.

Duty to Stop and Fulfill Statutory Obligations

After a collision, Vermont law requires drivers to immediately stop their vehicle at or near the site of the accident, without obstructing traffic, and fulfill a set of statutory obligations. These obligations include:

– Providing reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the accident, including transport to a hospital or emergency medical facility.

– Exchanging name and address information with the other party, including vehicle registration number, drivers license information, and insurance information.

– If requested, sharing the drivers license, registration, and insurance documents with the other party.

– Reporting the accident to the nearest law enforcement authority promptly.

Failure to fulfill these obligations will result in a hit and run violation.

Reporting Requirements

In Vermont, drivers involved in an accident that results in damage to property, bodily injury, or death must report the accident to the nearest law enforcement authority. Drivers must report the accident as soon as is practicable.

If the driver is unable to report the accident themselves, someone who witnessed the accident, or a relative or passenger may file a report on behalf of the driver.

Civil and Criminal Penalties

Non-compliance with Vermonts hit and run laws can result in severe civil and criminal penalties. In cases where the damage caused by the accident exceeds $3,000, drivers who leave the scene without fulfilling their statutory obligations can be charged with a felony.

Felony hit and run convictions carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Misdemeanor hit and run charges may be filed when the damage caused by the accident is less than $3,000.

Misdemeanor charges carry up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Good Samaritan Law

Vermont has enacted a Good Samaritan law to encourage drivers to provide aid and assistance to other parties involved in an accident. The Good Samaritan law protects drivers who, in good faith, provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured in an accident from civil or criminal liability for any resulting injuries or death.

The law does not apply if the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident or engaged in criminal activity.

What to Do After an Accident in Vermont

Being involved in an accident can be overwhelming and confusing. Here are some steps drivers must take after an accident in Vermont.

Immediate Actions

The first immediate action is to stop the vehicle at or near the accident site while ensuring not to obstruct traffic. Drivers should then ensure the safety of everyone involved in the accident, including rendering reasonable assistance to anyone injured, if possible.

Call for medical help if the injuries are severe. After providing aid, drivers must exchange information about themselves, their vehicles, and their insurance with other drivers involved in the accident.

What Not to Do

In Vermont, it’s essential not to admit fault for the accident, whether it was your fault or not. Admitting liability can negatively impact the drivers insurance claim, making the case more complicated to resolve.

Drivers must not leave the scene of the accident. Doing so may result in severe penalties.

Evidence Gathering

Gathering evidence strengthens the driver’s insurance claim. Drivers must use their phones or a camera to take a photo of the accident scene.

They must also gather contact information from witnesses and take photographs of the damage to their vehicle. If available, dashcam footage can be of great help.

Drivers must take note of the other vehicle’s make, model, and registration number aided by a quick photo of the other drivers license information.

Reporting and Filing a Police Report

Vermont law requires that drivers involved in an accident causing property, bodily injury, or death; file a police report. The driver can report the accident in person or by calling the nearest police department and request an officer to come to the scene.

If the driver is unable to report the accident themselves, someone who witnessed the accident, or a relative or passenger may file a report on behalf of the driver. In conclusion, Vermonts hit and run laws are designed to hold drivers responsible for the consequences of an accident.

Despite the stress that comes with it, drivers must learn to remain calm after a collision while fulfilling their statutory obligations. Hit and run accidents can have severe consequences, both financially and legally.

By following prescribed actions immediately after a collision, drivers can protect themselves from criminal charges and civil penalties.

Fault and Liability in Vermont Accidents

Every accident has a fault or liability attached to it. In Vermont, accidents are classified as fault state, meaning the insurance companies are responsible for paying compensation based on who was at fault for an accident.

This article will discuss the comparative negligence rule in Vermont, statute of limitations, and fault in Vermont accidents.

Fault State

Vermont follows the fault state approach when it comes to accidents. At-fault parties are responsible for paying the damages and compensation to the other party in the accident.

The insurance company for the at-fault party will cover the costs associated with repairing the damage to the other party’s vehicle and any medical expenses.

Comparative Negligence Rule

Vermont follows the comparative negligence rule when determining liability in an accident. This means that even if a driver was found partially responsible for the accident, they may still recover damages.

Under the comparative negligence rule, drivers who contribute to the accidents cause will have their damages diminished proportionally by how responsible they were for the accident.

For example, if a driver was found 25% responsible and suffered damages worth $10,000, they will recover 75% of the amount or $7,500.

Statute of Limitations

In Vermont, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury or property damage claim due to an accident is three years from the date of the accident. Failure to file suit within this time limit may result in a driver losing their right to sue for damages.

It’s essential to hire a personal injury lawyer to advise and assist with the case before the limitation period expires. Insurance companies require claims to be filed within a specific time frame, so it’s vital to act promptly to protect your legal rights.

DUI Hit and Run in Vermont

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not only illegal, but it also puts other road users in grave danger. When such behavior occurs in combination with leaving the scene of an accident, it greatly increases the severity of the situation.

This article will cover the corresponding penalties for DUI hit and run, serious bodily injury or death, and the civil and criminal consequences in Vermont.

Penalties for DUI Hit and Run

In Vermont, the penalties for a DUI hit and run are severe, carrying a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. The exact penalty will vary based on the severity of the accident and the level of damages or injuries involved in the accident.

Serious Bodily Injury or Death

A DUI hit and run with serious bodily injury or death is a severe offense in Vermont and carries significant consequences. It may lead to a conviction for a felony, leading to a lengthy jail sentence, severe restrictions on driving privileges, and a significant fine.

The driver is also left with a criminal record that may hinder various opportunities later in life.

Civil and Criminal Consequences

A driver involved in a hit and run accident will face both civil and criminal penalties, depending on the level of damages and injuries. The driver will need to pay for the damages and medical expenses caused by the accident, but they may also face criminal charges for their failure to stop and fulfill their statutory obligations after the accident.

In addition to criminal charges, the driver’s insurance rates will likely increase after the accident, along with resulting in the suspension of their driving privileges and possible legal proceedings.

Final Thoughts

The consequences of accidents and hit-and-run incidents can linger for a long time, affecting drivers’ careers, financial stability, and emotional well-being. It’s essential to follow the law and report an accident, regardless of who caused it, to ensure the legal and insurance aspects of the incident are handled appropriately.

Accidents can happen to anyone, but the difference is in how they handle it. Drivers must be responsible, follow procedural requirements, and act in the best interest of all parties involved to ensure a successful resolution.

Defenses in Vermont Hit and Run Cases

A hit and run accident can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved, and drivers who flee the scene face significant criminal penalties. However, there may be valid reasons why a driver had to leave the scene, leading to a possible defense in a hit and run case.

This article will discuss the involuntary leaving of the scene, fear for safety, and mistaken identity defenses in Vermont hit and run cases.

Involuntary Leaving the Scene

Involuntary leaving the scene is a defense that a driver can use in a hit and run case if they didn’t realize that they had been involved in an accident. The driver must show that they didnt intentionally leave the scene and that they were not aware of the accident.

For instance, if the driver was involved in an accident obscured by low visibility while driving, and they believed a mere bump had occurred, they may justifiably claim that they did not know that the accident had occurred. The defense of involuntary leaving the scene may excuse the driver from criminal liability.

Fear for Safety

In certain circumstances, drivers may have a reasonable defense for a hit and run. One common example is when drivers leave the scene of an accident because they feared for their safety.

This defense can be difficult to prove, however, as it requires drivers to demonstrate that they had a reasonable belief that an individual who might have been involved in the accident was about to cause them harm. For instance, if an altercation with another driver becomes heated and the driver feels threatened and subsequently leaves the scene, it is possible that they may have a defense of fear for safety.

Mistaken Identity

In some cases, a driver may be wrongly accused of a hit and run accident involving their vehicle. Misidentification is a defense that is valid when a driver was not involved in the accident and was wrongly accused of leaving the scene.

For instance, if a witness misidentifies a driver as the hit and run offender when in reality, the driver was not involved in the accident, the defense of mistaken identity may be justifiable. Its important to highlight that defenses to hit and run charges in Vermont are highly complex and likely to be challenged by the prosecution.

For a defense to hold up in court, it must be rigorously argued, and substantial evidence must be presented in support of it.


While there are some defenses to the charge of hit and run in Vermont, it is still essential to understand the severity of the offense and take the appropriate steps to fulfill ones statutory obligations. If a driver is involved in an accident but is unable to stop at the scene, they must contact the nearest law enforcement officials as soon as possible.

That way, a police report will be filed, and the driver is not leaving the scene without fulfilling their obligations. As mentioned previously, it is helpful to ensure that drivers have legal representation to assist in building a viable defense case in the event of the legal proceedings resulting from a hit and run case.

In conclusion, understanding the defenses available in Vermont hit and run cases is crucial for drivers involved in accidents. Involuntary leaving the scene and fear for safety can serve as valid defenses if drivers can demonstrate their lack of intent or reasonable concern.

Additionally, mistaken identity can be used as a defense if drivers are wrongly accused. However, it is essential to remember the importance of fulfilling statutory obligations and reporting accidents promptly.

The complexities of defending a hit and run charge underscore the need for legal representation in such cases. As drivers, it is our responsibility to act responsibly and ethically on the roads, ensuring the safety of ourselves and others while adhering to the laws.

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