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Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 12:52 pm
Being involved in a car accident can be a scary experience. Even if it’s just a minor fender bender with some property damage, it’s understandable to feel shaken up. However, it’s important to follow the law and proper procedures after an accident in New York. Let’s take a look at New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 600(1), which covers the rules for leaving the scene of an incident that causes property damage.
According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 600(1)(a) , any person operating a motor vehicle who knows or should know that they caused property damage must:
This law applies to any property damage caused by a motor vehicle accident or incident, whether to another vehicle, a building, a fence, or any other type of property. Even if the damage appears very minor, it must be reported.
If you leave the scene without providing the required information or reporting the incident, you can be charged with a traffic infraction under VTL 600(1)(a). The penalties include:
In addition, points may be added to your license, leading to increased insurance rates or even suspension of your driving privileges for repeat offenses.
It’s important to note that the law requires you to provide your information and/or report the accident “before leaving the place where the damage occurred” . You cannot leave the scene and then report it later. The exchange of information must occur there at the scene of the accident.
If the other driver is not present (for example, you damaged an unattended parked car), you must report the incident to the nearest police station as soon as you are physically able to. Again, you cannot leave and report it hours later. The law requires you to report it as soon as you can after the damage occurs.
There are a few important reasons why New York requires drivers to stop and exchange information or report accidents that result in property damage :
By reporting the accident, you help ensure that liability and damages can be properly determined. This allows the affected parties to get their property repaired and be compensated for losses.
Sometimes accidents happen so quickly that a driver may not realize they caused property damage. If circumstances were such that you were reasonably unaware of any damage, then you would not be guilty of violating VTL 600(1).
For example, let’s say you sideswipe a pole while parking but don’t see or hear anything to indicate damage occurred. As long as you had no obvious reason to know there was damage, failure to report would not be considered an offense. However, if you collide with a parked car and hear a loud crunching noise before driving away, it would be hard to claim you didn’t know damage was caused.
Similarly, if you reasonably believe you did not cause the damage, you would not be required to report the incident under VTL 600(1). For example, if someone claims you damaged their fence but you know you did not drive near their fence, you would not have to provide your information or make a report.
However, it’s important to be honest with yourself about whether you may have contributed to any property damage after an accident. When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and report the incident. You can provide your side of the story to police and your insurance company.
When exchanging information at the scene, it’s not necessary or advisable to determine fault or make any statements admitting you caused the accident. Simply share the required identifying details with the other driver or property owner. The insurance companies will later investigate and assign fault based on the evidence.
If you are injured in an accident and need medical assistance, that should be your top priority. Seek help right away and report the incident when you are able. The law does not expect injured drivers to remain at the scene if they need immediate medical care.
However, you should still report the incident as soon as you are physically able, even if from the hospital. Ask a passenger or someone else at the scene to provide your contact information to the other driver before you leave in the ambulance.
Ride share drivers (like Uber and Lyft) and car share drivers have some additional reporting requirements under VTL 600(1)(a) :
These extra disclosure rules help determine liability and insurance coverage for ride share accidents.
Being charged with leaving the scene of an accident can have serious consequences. Even though it’s considered a minor traffic infraction, a violation of VTL 600(1) can still result in fines, jail time, and license points. This is why it’s advisable to consult an experienced New York traffic lawyer if you are charged with this offense.
A lawyer can help get charges reduced or dismissed. They may be able to argue you did not actually violate the law, for example if you were unaware that damage occurred. In many cases, a lawyer can negotiate plea deals or other favorable outcomes so you avoid the harshest penalties.
Do not ignore tickets or summons for leaving the scene offenses. The sooner you involve legal counsel, the better your chances of a positive resolution. Contact a qualified New York traffic attorney today for assistance.
Accidents happen, and when they do, it’s crucial to know your legal responsibilities and how to properly handle the situation to avoid making matters worse – especially when it comes to leaving the scene of an accident. In New York, the law requires you to exchange information with the other party or report the incident to law enforcement before leaving an accident scene. Whether you are involved in an accident resulting in property damage, personal injury, or even injury to an animal, it is illegal to leave the scene without following the proper procedure. Here, we have provided an all-encompassing guide on New York’s vehicle and traffic laws, what to do in case of an accident, and how to effectively handle any legal issues that may arise in such scenarios.
Reporting a property damage accident before leaving the scene provides the police and the insurance company with the vital information needed to properly resolve the case. Failing to do so can land you in serious trouble, potentially facing charges for leaving the scene of an accident illegally or even a hit-and-run. Always remember to remain calm and composed after an accident so that you don’t make irrational decisions that might jeopardize your case. Exchange information with the other party, including your driver’s license, insurance policies, full names, and home addresses.
|Information Required to Exchange||Information to Expect from the Other Party|
|Your driver’s license||Their driver’s license|
|Insurance identification details of your vehicle||Insurance identification details of their vehicle|
|Your full name and home address||Their full name and home address|
Let’s consider the case of Robert, who was late for work one morning and ended up sideswiping another car while driving through the streets of Manhattan. Instead of stopping and exchanging information with the other driver, he continued with his journey. This decision could lead to heavy penalties, or even a jail term, for leaving the scene without reporting the damage or committing a hit-and-run. The offense falls in the category of a traffic infraction and attracts a fine of up to $250 and a possible 15 days in jail if convicted.
It is important to note that before sentencing, the prosecutor must prove that you were indeed aware of the property damage but chose to ignore it. Your defense, on the other hand, must demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that you did not realize you hit an object or another vehicle. The chances of succeeding in such charges may be slim if you decide to defend yourself without a lawyer who is well-versed with New York’s penal code and has significant experience in defending clients in local courts.
If you’re involved in a car accident that consists of physical injury, injury to an animal or property damage, the law requires you to always notify someone of the accident and remain at the scene. After furnishing the necessary information (driver’s license, insurance, and address) to the police, you can be added to the case report establishing the relevant parties involved.
Various penalties are applicable depending on the specifics of your case. Fines range from paying upwards of $500 for not displaying your license and insurance info, to up to $1,000 for causing injury and facing one year in jail. With a second offense, the fine can increase up to $2,500, and a possible four-year prison sentence. Suppose a person dies as a result of the accident and you’re charged with leaving the scene. In that case, the penalties can be as hefty as $5,000 in fines and up to seven years in prison.
If you’ve been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, it’s of the utmost importance to retain an experienced defense attorney to help guide you through the legal process. Ensure you provide accurate and detailed information to your attorney regarding the accident, involved parties, possible witnesses, and reasons for leaving the scene, This information is invaluable to building a comprehensive defense for your case.
In conclusion, accidents do happen, but being well-informed about the necessary legal requirements can make a significant difference in how your case unfolds. Always remember to report any accidents, exchange information, and, if necessary, enlist the services of a competent defense attorney to safeguard your rights and resolve the case in your favor.
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