What is a Hit-And-Run Accident?

G. Wiesen

A hit-and-run accident is a type of accident that involves someone who is operating a motor vehicle striking another vehicle, property, or person, and then leaving the scene without identifying himself or herself. The laws of many countries and regions make this type of act illegal, and depending on the nature of the accident itself, the severity of the legal action against someone who commits such a crime can vary. A hit-and-run accident does not necessarily indicate any accident in which a person leaves the scene, since many areas allow someone to leave when an accident only involves property, as long as the person responsible leaves behind contact information.

Hit-and-run accidents can happen in parking lots.
Hit-and-run accidents can happen in parking lots.

The vehicle and driver involved in a hit-and-run accident are sometimes referred to as “phantom vehicles,” often by those within the insurance industry. A hit-and-run accident typically consists of three basic components that make up the criminal act of such an accident. First, there must be some type of accident in which the operator of a motor vehicle strikes the property of another person, or a person. In some areas, the value of the damage inflicted often indicates the severity of this crime; minor property damage may only indicate a misdemeanor, while injury or death of a person is often a felony.

A car that's been in an accident.
A car that's been in an accident.

After the accident occurs, the person must actually leave the scene of the accident for it to be a hit-and-run. Someone striking a parked car with his or her motor vehicle, for example, would then need to drive away from the scene. The final aspect of a hit-and-run accident is that the person who leaves the scene makes no effort to leave contact information or help anyone at the scene. This does not mean that anyone leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident has committed a hit-and-run, only if he or she does so without providing information at the scene.

In many areas, such as the US, if an accident only involves property damage, and no one is at the scene, then the person responsible for the accident can legally leave the scene as long as he or she provides information about his or her identity. Someone can avoid a hit-and-run accident charge, for example, by leaving a note indicating his or her name, phone number, and insurance company. If someone is at the scene, then those involved in the accident must trade information so that proper action can be taken by each side. Whenever a person is injured in an accident, then those involved must typically remain at the scene until further help arrives to avoid charges of a hit-and-run accident.

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