Under MGL ch 90 § 24, it is against the law for any driver to leave the scene of an accident resulting in property damage or personal injury caused by the driver without stopping and making themselves known to the property owner or persons involved.
This means that even leaving the scene of a minor accident can cause real problems for anyone caught doing so.
3 Laws in MA for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
MA General Laws provide 3 distinct crimes for which any driver can be accused of after leaving the scene of a car accident /hit & run:
- Leaving the Scene of Property Damage
- Leaving the Scene of Personal Injury Not Resulting in Death
- Leaving the Scene of Personal Injury Resulting in Death
Even if no one else was involved and you believe the damages to be minor, you are still obligated by law to stop and exchange your details with someone who owns, operates or otherwise is in control of the affected property.
Also, under MGL ch 90 § 11, every driver is required to carry their driver’s license and vehicle registration at all times of operation. This law was written so that anyone adversely affected by another’s driving can immediately get their personal information in order to seek any restitution and/or insurance for damages caused. The law also mandates that anyone involved or affected in the accident has the right to demand your driver information, and you must oblige by giving it to them.
What You Should Do at the Scene of a MA Car Accident:
- Always operate your vehicle/s with your Driver’s License on you, and the vehicle registration in the glove compartment;
- If you hit property & no one is around, stop and wait to see if the property owner returns. This also applies to hitting a parked car;
- If hours have passed and no one shows up, you should attempt to find a property owner by going into the nearest building/store/movie theatre/mall, etc. and have the person paged.
- If you damaged residential property, stop. Then see if anyone is home to notify them of the accident and exchange your details with them.
- If you collide with another vehicle in traffic, wait until it is safe to fully stop. If you must pull over and out of traffic to safely stop, then do so;
- Remain calm and check on the other occupants. You should call the police and notify the other persons involved that you have done so before exchanging the required driver information. This also applies if you hit a pedestrian.
- Do not discuss issues of fault with anyone involved, including police.
The above steps operate to protect you, whether or not fault is established.
Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident can carry jail time. If convicted of leaving the scene of property damage, the sentence carries a fine of from $20 to $200; imprisonment of from 2 weeks minimum up to 2 years; or both fine and jail.
For leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a personal injury (Not resulting in death,) penalties are minimum incarceration of 6 months, up to 2 years and a fine of from $500 minimum up to $1,000.
Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death carries penalties of from 1 year up to 10 years imprisonment, depending on the level of charge brought. A felony conviction can result in the harshest punishment, and any of these charges can also be added onto an accident while DUI.
If you need legal help with leaving the scene of an accident in Massachusetts, please call Oberhauser Law now for a free initial consultation: 978-452-1116.