It’s never a good day for anyone involved in an accident, and it’s even worse if it results in serious injuries or death. State laws typically place legal requirements on individuals who are involved in accidents in Chicago, IL. But, like many laws, they can be subject to interpretation, and sometimes the wording could be more precise.
You may ask yourself, Can I leave the scene of an accident if there are no injuries? The answer to that question is an unequivocal “no.” You must stay at the location under most circumstances to ensure that nobody has been hurt and provide information, such as your identity, car registration, and insurance information.
The team at Alvarez Law, serving Indiana and Illinois, is well versed in the requirements for staying at the scene of an accident in both states. We also understand the legal precedents involved and how the law is typically interpreted. If you need representation for the offense of leaving the scene of an accident, contact Alvarez Law for a consultation. Learn more about personal injury law and give us a call at (219) 852-7089 today!
Legal Requirements at the Scene of an Accident
The law requires you to be more than just a bystander when staying at the accident scene. There are specific actions you’re expected to take.
In Indiana, for example, the law obliges you to provide your name and contact information, including the registration details of your car, to the other operator. In the event of serious injuries, you’re expected to help anyone injured or trapped in the aftermath of the accident if requested by law enforcement or medical personnel.
As soon as possible after the accident, you’re also expected to notify authorities by calling the state or local police or the local sheriff within a jurisdiction and report the accident to a 911 operator.
Illinois law also includes an affirmative duty to provide information and render aid. You’re required to give your name, registration number, name of the vehicle owner, and your driver’s license to the other driver involved in the accident. The law also expects you to provide reasonable medical support, including but not limited to transporting the person who has been injured to receive medical care. Finally, Illinois law also requires you to report the accident to the nearest police officials and give the same personal information as requested.
As we all know, the moments right after an accident can be confusing and unnerving. If law enforcement charges you with leaving the scene of an accident, even one with no injuries, you should consult with experienced criminal defense counsel as soon as possible. Our team at Alvarez Law has extensive experience in defending drivers from this and other traffic offenses.
Consequences of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Illinois
State motor vehicle codes generally require drivers to stay at the scene of an accident, no matter what. Failing to do so can bring severe penalties, depending on the specific circumstances.
In Illinois, leaving the scene of an accident involving only property damage is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties can include up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The law makes exceptions for moving cars to the side of the road to avoid being a hazard to other traffic.
The consequences get more significant in accidents involving death or physical injuries. Illinois law makes leaving the scene of an accident with injuries or death a Class 4 felony offense, punishable by one to three years in prison. If you leave but report the accident less than a half hour later, the crime is considered a Class 2 felony, with penalties of three to seven years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
The most serious offense is leaving an accident where someone dies, which makes the situation a Class 1 felony, carrying a prison sentence of between four and 15 years and a fine of up to $25,000. The law requires you to be tested for intoxication in all of these three incidents.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Laws in Indiana
Indiana handles the offense of leaving the scene of an accident similarly. Leaving an accident involving only property damage is considered a Class B misdemeanor in the Hoosier state that becomes a Class A misdemeanor in the event of an injury. Class B misdemeanor charges carry jail sentences of six months and a fine of up to $1,000.
If someone is seriously hurt, Indiana files the charge as a Level 6 felony and a Level 4 felony if the accident involves the death of another person. A Level 4 felony can send you to prison for a fixed term of between two and 12 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
The stiffest circumstance under Indiana law is leaving the scene of an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In that case, Indiana law may charge you with a Level 3 felony, with penalties that include a prison sentence of three to 16 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
As you can see, leaving the scene of an accident puts your freedom at risk and could result in costly fines. Your actions may become evidence in a personal injury lawsuit, potentially resulting in a more severe judgment against you, and your insurance premiums can also increase.
Choose Experienced Counsel
Traffic-related offenses may seem like trivial matters initially but can often have significant long-term consequences. Try to avoid resolving the issues on your own. You need experienced defense counsel to represent you in a court of law to protect your rights. Your attorneys will analyze the facts and collect additional evidence to help bring the charges against you to a conclusion. We’ll stand by your side even if you choose to take a case to trial, but our team of attorneys is experienced in negotiating outcomes without requiring official proceedings. Alvarez Law, serving clients in Illinois and Indiana, provides a personalized approach to each case to give you the best representation possible. We also provide counsel in personal injury cases. Call us or contact us online for a consultation.