Arizona Hit and Run Laws
April 7, 2023
When another driver rear-ends you or veers into your lane, resulting in a head-on collision, you expect them to get out of the car, check to see if you’re alright, and give you their insurance information. Unfortunately, some motorists are incredibly selfish and flee the collision scene in a foolish effort to protect themselves.
If you’ve been in a hit and run accident, you might be unaware of the laws that surround your case or how to seek compensation for your medical bills and vehicle repair costs. Fortunately, the Phoenix hit and run accident attorneys from Zanes Law are here to answer your questions and seek damages on your behalf.
Legal Penalties for Hit and Run Incidents in Arizona
Understanding the hit and run laws in Arizona can help you determine what the guilty party’s criminal charges might look like. According to state law, a hit and run collision that only results in property damage is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a $500 fine, up to 30 days and jail, and one year of probation.
If the property damage caused by the hit and run accident includes damage to your vehicle or another driver’s vehicle, the potential sentencing increases to a $750 fine, four months of jail time, and two years probation.
If you were injured in the hit and run, Arizona law requires that the guilty party be charged with a felony. According to A.R.S. § 28-661, there are several different types of hit and run felony charges, including:
- Minor injury: If you suffered minor injuries in an accident, the at-fault driver could be sentenced to over two and a half years in prison and lose their license for three years.
- Serious injury or death: If a driver was involved in but didn’t cause an accident that resulted in serious injury or death, Arizona state law requires them to receive at least eight and three-quarters years in prison and five years of license suspension for fleeing the scene.
- Serious injury or death in a crash caused by a guilty party: If a driver flees the scene of an accident they caused that resulted in serious injury or death, they’ll receive at least 12.5 years in prison and lose their license for 10 years for fleeing.
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Pursuing Compensation After a Hit and Run Accident in Arizona
Pursuing damages after a hit and run crash can be difficult, especially if the guilty motorist isn’t identified or charged in the days and weeks following the incident. Fortunately, you can seek compensation in several ways, regardless of whether the offending driver is identified.
Depending on your unique situation, an Arizona hit and run lawyer can help you obtain compensation through one of the following ways:
An Insurance Claim
There are several different types of auto insurance that could cover property damage expenses and medical bills after a hit and run collision. An attorney can help you file an insurance claim if you have any of the following forms of coverage:
- Personal injury protection (P.I.P.): This type of coverage can provide up to $10,000 worth of compensation after a hit and run collision.
- Uninsured motorist (UM): In addition to providing compensation to drivers who are hit by uninsured motorists, this type of coverage can also offer compensation for any bodily injury or property damage you endure in an accident caused by a driver who fled the scene and hasn’t been identified.
- MedPay: A MedPay claim can yield compensation for your medical costs after an accident where the other driver fled the scene.
A Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the driver is identified, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. Depending on the Arizona hit and run law that applies to the accident, the target of your suit may also be facing misdemeanor or felony charges. If they are, it likely won’t prevent you from filing a civil suit against them.
In fact, there are some situations in which criminal charges may help your personal injury case. For example, if the offending driver testifies in court during their criminal trial, your attorney may be able to use their statement as evidence for your case.
That said, it’s important to remember that if the driver is criminally charged, it doesn’t automatically mean that your personal injury suit will be successful. You’ll still need to hire an attorney and go through the legal process to hold the driver liable.
What You Should Do After a Hit and Run Accident in Arizona
If you’ve been in an accident with a driver who left the scene before giving a statement to the police or exchanging insurance information with you, there are several things you can do to make your life easier. First of all, you should have any serious or painful injuries checked out by a medical professional.
If your injuries are minor, take the following steps immediately after and in the days following a hit and run collision:
Document the Vehicle and Driver
Getting into a hit and run accident can be extremely shocking, making it difficult to note and remember details about the offending driver’s vehicle. That said, documenting details about the driver and their car can help the police identify the party who should be held liable for your injuries and losses.
In the seconds following your collision, it’s important to stay calm and take note of the following details:
- The make and model of the driver’s vehicle
- The vehicle’s color
- The license plate number
- The state shown on the license plate
- Any unique aspects of the vehicle
- The driver’s basic physical characteristics
Call the Police
Once you’ve written down all you can remember about the vehicle and the driver, contact local law enforcement as soon as possible. They’ll investigate the accident scene and file a report that your attorney can use when preparing your claim or lawsuit.
The police will also conduct an investigation to identify the driver who fled the scene. If their investigation is successful, it could mean more compensation for your medical bills, property damage, and other accident-related challenges.
Speak to Witnesses
If anyone was walking near the scene of the accident when it occurred or got out of their car to see if you were ok, talk to them and ask them about what they saw. See if they would be willing to speak to your attorney about what they witnessed and ask for their contact information. Their testimony could help you get the compensation you’re owed.
In addition to documenting details about the offending driver’s car, you’ll also want to document the scene of the accident. Take photos of your vehicle damage and any signs, railings, or other objects that were damaged in the hit and run crash.
You’ll also want to photograph any visible injuries you’ve sustained. Having photographic evidence of the accident and your injuries can go a long way when pursuing damages.
Hire an Arizona Hit and Run Attorney
Filing a personal injury lawsuit or even an insurance claim after a car wreck can be extremely challenging, especially if you’re dealing with debilitating injuries. If you’ve been injured in a car accident that the offending driver fled from, you need to hire a hit and run accident lawyer ASAP.
Getting started on your case soon will be helpful if you end up having to file a civil suit. That’s because Arizona has a strict filing deadline for car accident lawsuits. Under A.R.S. § 12-542, you have two years from the date of the collision to file a lawsuit. Fling any later than the two-year mark could stop you from getting the payment you need to cover your losses.
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Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Lawyer
Understanding Arizona’s hit and run laws can be challenging, especially if you’re recovering from a serious injury. Luckily, the Phoenix car accident attorneys at Zanes Law can answer any questions you have following such an incident.
Our team can also assist you in pursuing compensation via an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a skilled attorney. They’ll meet with you to talk about your case, determine if you have grounds for a claim, and explain your legal options.