Having a hit-and-run accident is not trivial. If you do not know how to react, here is a guide that can help you in the future:
Depressed door, damaged rear view mirror, pedestrian crashed or even abandoned to his sad fate on the floor … The notion of hit and run is vast and covers situations and consequences whose severity is highly variable. But what does one recognize a hit and run? How to act when one is a victim of such an offense? And what are the penalties we face when we are guilty of such serious behavior? All the answers are at the bottom of this article.
ACCIDENT WITH HIT AND RUN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
A hit and run is a serious offense: if the driver responsible for the accident or bodily injury to another person is identified, he incurs a significant penalty, which will be decided in court. In addition, the offending motorist is also exposed to retaliatory measures of his insurance. However, if the responsible driver manages to escape and can not be found, the insured who has suffered the defect will have difficulty to be compensated for the damage incurred, unless it is insured all risks , or that there was bodily injury.
What is a hit and run?
A hit and run is a criminal offense that involves causing an accident and fleeing so as not to be prosecuted. This criminal offense is described in Article 434-10 of the Penal Code and sanctions are provided to punish the guilty party. In fact, a person responsible for an accident who leaves without revealing his identity, contact information and registration , whether driving a land, sea or simply on foot, is guilty of hit and run.
Note that hit and run is the second most common traffic offense after alcohol. Indeed, it seems that many motorists decide not to stop in order to escape their criminal or civil responsibility. In 2011 alone, for example, the hit-and-run offense accounted for 23.70% of all offenses with 135,679 offenses recorded in France (figures published by the Ministry of the Interior).
What are the penalties?
Authorities do not joke with hit and run. According to article 434-10 of the Penal Code , the culprit of this offense risks:
- 3 years imprisonment,
- € 75,000 fine (€ 150,000 in case of recidivism);
- 6 points less on the driving license;
Article 434-45 of the Penal Code also adds the suspension of the license for a maximum of 5 years. And Article 231-1 of the Highway Code sometimes provides for its complete cancellation with the prohibition to return it for three years. Judges often require the perpetrator to take a road safety awareness course or carry out community service.
Other additional sanctions that may be decided by the Correctional Court include, for example:
- Confiscation of the automobile;
- Damages for the victim;
In addition, the insurer’s insurance company will also take certain measures such as:
- A large increase in insurance;
- Unilateral termination of the contract ;
- The registration of the insured with the Association for the Management of Information on Automobile Risk.
Escape is therefore a very bad idea both ethically and criminally. Also know that even if after having fled, the official decides to surrender to the authorities, he will still be considered guilty of hit and run.
FATALITY: WHAT TO DO WHEN ONE IS A VICTIM OR RESPONSIBLE?
The case law considers that the hit-and-run offense is constituted when the offending driver does not leave his victim with any means to contact him again. Cases of hit and run are numerous and varied; we have all been exposed to this kind of situation at least once in our life. But how to act when one is a victim, or responsible, of a hit and run?
Responsible: how to react?
The culprit of an accident must remain at the scene of the accident in order to complete a report . He must at least leave his name, contact information and registration number. The presence of a witness is significant so that this person can confirm that the author of the accident has taken his responsibilities. Moreover, the simple fact of remaining motionless around the accident makes it possible not to be prosecuted for hit-and-run.
Victim: what to do?
The victim of an accident with hit and run must have some reflexes:
- Identify and memorize as much information as possible about the vehicle (make, model, color, license plate, etc.). The ideal is to take a picture with a smartphone.
- Find witnesses and keep their contact information so you can contact them later if needed
- Completing an amicable report alone to clearly indicate the circumstances of the accident,
- Send within 5 days of the incident, by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt, a letter with the report to the insurer,
- Make a complaint to the police.
DID YOU KNOW ? In the context of a hit and run, it is of course the perpetrator who decides to escape. However, it is possible that the victim does it too! It is then a ” refusal to obey” : the victim risks sanctions such as the suspension of his license, three months in prison and 3,750 euros fine.
HOW MANY BENEFITS CAN THE VICTIM RECEIVE?
There is one question left unanswered: what compensation can the victim of the hit and run can hope for? When the offense is accompanied by material consequences , the victim is only compensated if he has an “all risks” car insurance. The insurance of the victim will then cover the repair costs deducted from a possible deductible, within the limit of the ceiling established in the contract. If the victim has insurance to the third party, no compensation is possible, the simple civil liability guarantee being designed only to compensate third parties to whom it would have caused potential harm.
When the offense involves bodily injury , the victim is compensated according to the following cases:
- It has an individual accident guarantee: its insurer will cover most of the damage suffered;
- It does not have an individual accident guarantee: the victim can complete a claim file within three years of the hit and run that will be sent to the Guarantee Fund for Compulsory Compulsory Property Damages (FGAO).