If you're In a vehicle accident, you're legally required to stop and exchange information with other people who were involved. You're also obligated to contact authorities and offer assistance to anyone who may be hurt. This is true even if the accident wasn't your fault.
Leaving the scene of an accident can be a very serious charge. But there may be extenuating circumstances that a defense lawyer can raise, if applicable. These include the following four circumstances:
1. You suffered from mental confusion
If you're in an accident, you may have suffered injuries that cause you to be mentally confused. A head injury can lead to feeling confused and having memory loss, both short and long term.
You can also have an acute "fight or flight" stress reaction that causes you to suffer memory loss or to drive away, essentially on auto-pilot. This defense was successfully used in a high-profile hit-and-run case in Florida.
2. You take medication that caused side effects
Certain medications, including several sleeping aids, can cause you to be in a zombie-like state and literally "sleep drive." You can drive in your sleep and have no awareness or memory of it.
It's not a stretch to imagine that if you don't realize you're driving, you may also not realize that you've been in an accident and could drive away as a result.
3. You felt threatened
When you're in a car accident, the other driver may be very irate, whether or not you were at fault. It can be a very tense, frightening situation to encounter another driver who directly threatens you or acts in a way that causes you to think that you may be in danger.
Ideally, you'd leave the situation and call the police. But even if you didn't call the police, this can be used as a defense to your actions.
4. You didn't know you were in an accident
In some cases, you may honestly not realize that you hit another vehicle. If you were backing out of a parking space, for example, you may think you came close to another car but didn't actually hit it.
Especially if you were distracted in some way, you may not have realized that you struck another car. Or you may have assumed that there was no damage.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious accusation that can even result in jail time. If you've been accused of this, a defense attorney (such as one from Gibbs and Parnell) can help conduct an independent investigation to determine what actually happened. He or she can help you build a strong defense and call in expert medical testimony if needed.