What Does New York Law Require Drivers in an Accident to Do?

Anyone involved in a car accident that results in physical property damage, human injury, or damage to an animal is required to stay at the scene to exchange contact and insurance information with other drivers involved or wait for law enforcement to arrive to file a report. If the driver leaves the accident site without doing any of these, they could be found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident (commonly referred to as hit and run). That’s a violation of New York law. Depending on the severity of the injuries and damages that result, there are several potential consequences, ranging from a simple traffic infraction all the way to a felony.

  • A traffic violation can result in fines of up to $250 and/or up to 15 days in jail.
  • A class B misdemeanor can result in fines of up to $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail.
  • A class A misdemeanor can result in fines of up to $1,00 and/or up to one year in jail.
  • A class E felony can result in fines of up to $2,500 and/or up to four years in prison.
  • A class D felony can result in fines of up to $5,000 and/or up to seven years in prison.

Any of these could also result in having to pay administrative fees and court costs, have points added to your driving record, have your license suspended for varying amounts of time, and leave you with a criminal record.

Unfortunately, even when someone knows that leaving the scene could be a crime, that doesn’t stop them from driving away. There are many reasons someone might leave, including momentary panic or that the driver is driving illegally (on a suspended license, for example).

It’s important to understand that the victim of a hit and run driver isn’t just a driver or passenger in another vehicle. It can also be a bicyclist or pedestrian.

What Steps Should I Take if I’m Injured by a Hit and Run Driver?

There are several. If your injuries don’t prevent you from being able to move, start with the following.

  • Call the police. You’ll want to file a report about the accident that could be used as evidence, and you can provide law enforcement with any details you remember about the hit and run so they can begin searching for them.
  • If you feel up to it, collect evidence while you wait for law enforcement to arrive. This could include photos and videos of the accident site, names, and contact information for any eyewitnesses, and checking to see if any nearby buildings might have security cameras that filmed footage of the accident.
  • Contact your insurance representative. Let them know you’ve been in an accident with a hit and run driver and see what they can help you with while law enforcement works to find the other driver.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible. Once you’ve filed the report with law enforcement, it’s vital you see a medical professional right away, even if you think your injury is minor. There are serious injuries that don’t always present symptoms at first. Left untreated, they can worsen.
  • Contact an experienced hit and run accident attorney. These are complex cases, and it can be complicated to file for damages. An attorney who understands the law and has experience working with insurance companies is vital to your outcome.

Is New York a No-Fault State, and How Does That Affect Hit and Run Claims?

New York is a no-fault auto insurance state. That means that regardless of who’s at fault for an accident, each claimant should file for damages with their own insurance company first. Depending on the severity of the injuries and damages, they may not have enough coverage; the state requires every vehicle owner to carry the following insurance minimums.

  • Bodily injury: $25,000 per person injured in the accident/$50,000 for everyone injured in the accident
  • Death: $50,000 per person injured in the accident/$100,000 for everyone injured in the accident
  • Property damage: $10,000 for one accident

If someone is severely injured in an accident, $25,000 may only be a small part of their medical expenses. Finding the hit and run driver could help provide another avenue to recoup expenses.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Filing for Damages after a Hit and Run Accident?

A statute of limitations is how much time someone has to file for damages after being in an accident. In New York, the statute of limitations is usually three years from the day the accident occurred. After that, it’s usually difficult to get the court to consider the case or for the insurance company to negotiate a settlement.

What Should I Do if I Was Injured in a Hit and Run Car Accident?

Call the Law Offices of Thomas Lavin at 718-829-7400 for a free case evaluation. Hit and run accident claims are complex and not something to try to handle on your own; instead, work with our team of experienced, knowledgeable hit and run claims attorneys. Trying to determine who the driver was who left the scene and how to file claims if the driver can’t be found can be stressful and complicated. Our goal is to determine the right approach to work toward the best possible outcomes for you.