If you have a driver’s license in the state of Nevada, you are legally obligated to follow all of the rules and regulations of the road. After a car accident, you must remain present at the scene until released by law enforcement or until you have exchanged information with the other motorist.
If you do leave the scene of the accident before these things take place, you are actually breaking the law and could face the harsh penalties of a hit and run incident – even if the accident wasn’t your fault.
What to Do if You Are in an Accident
In Nevada, some laws dictate what a person should do if they are involved in a car accident. Drivers are obligated to stop and exchange information any time an accident occurs. If a driver hits a parked car and the owner is not present at the time, then a note must be left for the owner, and the police must be contacted to notify them of the accident.
Failure to fulfill your legal duties after an accident can result in repercussions like jail time or fines. Any time a person does not report an accident or stop after a collision, their actions are usually considered a hit and run accident.
The Duty to Render Aid
Under NRS 484E.030, all drivers in a collision have a legal duty to render reasonable aid – such as calling 911, helping a victim from their vehicle, or transporting them to a medical facility for treatment. Any time an accident occurs that results in injury, property damage, or death, a Nevada driver is required to stop and exchange the following information:
- Vehicle registration information
- Driver’s license information
Drivers are also required to provide this information to police officers investigating the scene. Neglecting to do any of this could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on whether there were injuries suffered in the accident.
Exchanging Information is Not Enough to Clear You from a Hit and Run Charge
While stopping and exchanging information is required after an accident, merely doing this and leaving can still result in a hit and run charge. Leaving the scene of an accident without providing what is defined as “reasonable assistance” or clearance from law enforcement can have repercussions.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Hit and run accidents are usually classified as misdemeanors, but this can vary depending on the type of accident and the damage sustained. If there is minor property damage (less than $750) and there are no injuries, the accident is considered a misdemeanor. However, fleeing from a misdemeanor-level accident can still result in serious repercussions like jail time.
Penalties can depend on the circumstances of the accident. However, some of the penalties you could face for leaving the scene of an accident include:
- Misdemeanor Hit and Run – NRS 484E.020. This occurs when there is property damage and you flee the scene of the accident. Penalties for this offense include up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and up to six demerit points on your driver’s license.
- Felony Hit and Run – NRS 484E.010. When death or bodily injury occurs and you leave the scene. The penalties are much harsher for this offense and include 2 to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and a possible license suspension or permanent revocation.
Other general penalties for hit and run felonies can include:
- Suspension of a driver’s license
- Revocation of a driver’s license
- Restitution for damages, paid to the victim
- Parole or probation
- Minimum 2 years to a max of 20 years in prison
Duty to File an Accident Report
Under NRS 484E.030 and associated sections, all drivers in Nevada are required to notify the police of an accident if it results in death, bodily injury, or property damage that is likely to cost more than $750.
Vehicle owners should be notified if they are not present at the time their property was damaged (such as when a car is parked while someone is shopping). Written notice should be left in plain view for the driver if they cannot be traced. A police report must also be filed in these instances.
Failure to File or Filing a False Police Report
If you fail to file an accident report or falsify information on that report, you could face up to a one-year license suspension or gross misdemeanor charges that include up to 364 days in jail and fines up to $2,000.
According to NRS. 484E.050, one of the duties of those involved in a car accident involving an unoccupied vehicle or other unattended properties is to notify the police or the Nevada Highway Patrol immediately. Failure to do so is considered a misdemeanor crime and can result in jail time and fines up to $1,000.
Hit and Run Crimes and Car Insurance
It is possible to obtain compensation for a hit-and-run accident through your insurance company, but Nevada’s insurance laws can make it difficult to do so.
Because the state only requires drivers to have liability insurance, it is usually only possible to get a payout if the policyholder was at fault for the accident. This means that if you were injured you can likely only make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance, and this is impossible if they have fled the scene.
If a driver has fled the scene and you do not have their insurance information, you can use your health insurance to pay for medical treatments. Or, if you have uninsured motorist coverage, your policy likely will cover your bills in the event of a hit and run. Uninsured motorist coverage is the best option to help cover the cost of doctor and hospital bills, pain and suffering, or any lost wages.
How Easy it is for the Police to Identify Hit and Run Drivers?
While there are no official studies or statistics for how often hit and run drivers in Nevada are tracked down after the fact, the LAPD attests that less than half of these cases are investigated, and even less result in successful arrests.
However, with the ever-progressing advancement of technology and surveillance devices, it is much easier to locate hit and run suspects than it was even 5 years ago. Building security cameras, smartphones, and other forms of videography are abundant on the streets of Nevada, especially around the Las Vegas Strip.
The bottom line is that you should never assume that you are free from a hit and run charge, even if it has been a few days since the accident. Any evidence recovered from these and other sources can be used to prosecute you in court.
How Can the Police Track a Driver Who Has Fled the Scene of an Accident?
There is no sure-fire way to track down someone who flees the scene of an accident. Even if you believe you can follow someone who has fled the scene, this is risky. The best way to help the police locate a hit and run offender is to take down their license plate number and the general direction they drove off in.
Statute of Limitations for Hit and Run Charges
The statute of limitations for felony hit and runs is three years from the date of the accident. This can change depending on the circumstances, however. Personal injury lawsuits can also apply, as can Nevada’s comparative negligence laws, and whether new evidence comes to light after the normal statute period.
The victim of a hit and run accident can sue the alleged fleeing driver, as long as they can prove the following:
- There is a law that exists to protect certain classes of people from hit and runs
- The victim was a member of that specific class
- The driver violated this law by not stopping at the scene of the crash
- The violation of that law caused the victim’s injuries or property damage
If these can be proven, the victim may be able to recover damages (financial compensation) from the driver to help take care of their injury expenses, from medical expenses to pain and suffering.
How a Hit and Run Lawyer Can Help with Charges Relating to Fleeing the Scene of an Accident
Like any other crime, a hit and run charge can carry serious consequences and penalties for anyone who flees the scene of an accident. Having this charge on your record can tarnish your driving record and more in the future. When facing this charge, a lawyer can provide help for your defense to (ideally) keep your record clean.
An experienced lawyer can help collect evidence and form a defense strategy to keep you out of jail or avoid hefty fines.
Contact a Defense Attorney if You Are Being Charged with Fleeing the Scene
If you are being arrested or questioned for fleeing the scene of an accident, having a defense attorney by your side can help. Contact the car accident attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group today at 702-222-9999 to schedule a free consultation or fill out an online contact form with your questions.