After an accident involving property damage or bodily injury, all parties must exchange information, law enforcement must be notified, and the accident must be reported. However, leaving the scene of an accident (a “hit-and-run” accident) is more common than you might think. There are some steps you should take after an accident, whether you believe you are at fault or not, to protect yourself and others.
Hit-and-Run Laws in New Hampshire
New Hampshire Statute 264:25 states that any “driver of a vehicle who knows or should have known that he or she has just been involved in any accident which resulted in death, personal injury or damages to property, shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident…” Violating this law (i.e. fleeing the scene, making the accident a “hit and run”) is a felony. If a driver is found after fleeing the scene, they will also be subject to civil action.
If you caused the accident
One of the most common reasons for fleeing is fear of punishment, but the consequences for leaving the scene are much greater. Fleeing the scene of an accident that caused injury or death is a felony, and can have extensive legal and financial consequences.
You should stop your car, ascertain if there are any injuries, and call emergency services immediately. Even if you believe you are responsible, do not verbally claim responsibility for the accident. Examination of the scene may show that you were not actually at fault.
What You Should Do After The Accident
Whether you believe you are at fault or not, you should immediately stop. If there are no injuries and you can do so safely, communicate with the other driver(s) and move to a safer location. For example, pull to the shoulder, turn off the main road onto a side street, or enter a parking lot. If there are injuries, all parties should stop and turn off their cars and wait for law enforcement officers to arrive.
What To Do If Someone Else Flees The Scene
If you are the victim of a hit and run, you must still stop and contact emergency services. Try to get the make, model, and license of the car as it leaves, but the shock of an accident may make that impossible. Write down any information right away, before you forget. If there are no injuries and your car is still operational, police may advise you to drive to the nearest police station to make a report. It is advisable to take photographs before moving your car, in the event that the other driver is found.