Per Illinois law, motorists involved in accidents that caused a personal injury or death must remain at the scene of an accident.
You should always remain at the scene after suffering a car accident. There are potentially severe penalties for fleeing the scene of a crash. Additionally, leaving the scene of an accident could affect your ability to recover financial compensation.
If another driver flees the scene of an accident, you may still recover damages related to the crash. There are certain actions you can take in the aftermath of an accident that will benefit your potential claim. Furthermore, an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer can provide guidance and support if you incurred damages because of a negligent driver who fled the scene of a crash.
Steps to Take After Another Driver Flees the Scene of an Accident in Illinois
There are various reasons a motorist may choose to flee the scene of an accident. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime. Unfortunately, many drivers in Illinois will still leave the scene after causing a crash. If you suffered damages in a car accident where the other driver fled the scene, the following actions may help you recover compensation:
Make Note of Identifying Information
It can be difficult, but you should try to make note of any identifying information pertaining to a driver who fled the scene of a crash. If possible, you should photograph the other driver’s license plate before he leaves the scene. Furthermore, you should also write down the make, model, and color of the other motorist’s vehicle. Other helpful, identifying details may include items such as bumper stickers, tinted windows, or special rims another driver may have had on their car.
You should also call 911 immediately after suffering an accident where the other driver leaves the scene. The authorities may be able to help locate and identify the other driver. Furthermore, an officer’s report of the accident can be valuable when pursuing damages in a future lawsuit.
Document the Scene of the Accident
Next, you should document the scene of the accident with photos and videos if possible. Photos will help establish property damage caused by the driver who committed the hit and run. Additionally, photos can help demonstrate the circumstances surrounding an accident such as weather or time of day.
Avoid Chasing the Other Driver
It can be very frustrating when another driver flees the scene after causing a car accident. Still, it is important to keep your composure and avoid chasing the other driver. Pursuing the other driver can put you in more danger. Accordingly, the pursuit should be left to the police.
Exchange Contact Information with Witnesses
Furthermore, you should exchange contact information with any witnesses to the accident. Witness testimony can help Chicago personal injury lawyers when proving that you suffered damages because of a hit and run. You should also let the police know of any witnesses to an accident, so they may be included in the accident report.
Notify Your Own Insurance Company
Lastly, you should notify your own insurance company after suffering damages because of a hit and run. If the other driver is not identified, you may be able to recover damages under your own uninsured motorist policy. Waiting to file a claim could cause you to miss out on compensation. Accordingly, you should notify your insurance company as soon as possible. An experienced Illinois car accident lawyer can provide assistance when filing a claim.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident in Illinois
Illinois law forbids drivers from fleeing the scene of an accident without first stopping to exchange information and, if necessary, render aid. If you suffered a car accident, you should stop somewhere where you are not obstructing traffic and are not at risk of being struck by another vehicle. Motorists who flee the scene of an accident can be charged with a hit and run. Depending on what types of damages were caused by a crash, different penalties may apply.
Accidents Involving Death or Personal Injury
Under 625 ILCS 5/11-401, motorists involved in accidents that caused a personal injury or death must remain at the scene of an accident. In such cases, drivers must exchange driver’s names, vehicle owner’s names, addresses, and vehicle registration numbers with other parties to an accident. Furthermore, drivers should provide reasonable assistance to injured parties. Reasonable assistance can include carrying or making arrangements to carry injured parties to a physician or hospital if it is apparent such treatment is necessary or if such assistance is requested by an injured person. Drivers who fail to comply with this law can be charged with a Class 2 felony in cases involving a personal injury, and a Class 1 felony if a death was caused.
Accidents Involving Only Property Damage to an Occupied Vehicle
625 ILCS 5/11-402 requires that drivers involved in car accidents causing only property damage to occupied vehicles must stop and exchange information with other parties to an accident. Again, drivers are required to exchange driver’s names, vehicle owner’s names, addresses, and vehicle registration numbers with other parties. Failure to comply with this law will result in a Class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors can result in a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Furthermore, Illinois imposes a 12-month driver’s license suspension for motorists who flee the scene of an accident where over $1,000 in vehicle damage was incurred.
Accidents Involving Only Property Damage to Unattended Vehicles or Other Property
Lastly, under 625 ILCS 5/11-404, drivers must also stop and exchange information after accidents involving only property damage to unattended vehicles or other property. After such an accident, drivers have two options. First, drivers can locate the other vehicle or property owner and provide them with your name, address, and vehicle registration number. Alternatively, drivers in such situations may attach a written notice with this information to the damaged property while also notifying the police. Failure to comply with this law will also result in a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois.