The penalty for a hit and run in Alabama depends on the circumstances of the accident, if there were injuries and other factors. As a result, the judge in the criminal case against a hit and run driver has a lot of discretion to hand down jail time, fines, and other penalties.
If you were a victim of a hit and run accident in Alabama, you may also have a civil case against the driver. A car accident attorney can review the crash with you and explain your options for recovering compensation.
When does a Driver Commit a Hit and Run?
It may seem clear-cut to you that the driver involved in your crash left the scene before they should. But does this meet the criteria for a hit and run charge in Alabama?
Under Ala. Code § 32-10-1, a driver must remain on the scene to exchange information, render aid, and contact law enforcement to report the crash. If they do not remain to fulfill these responsibilities, they could face charges.
While leaving the scene after a minor parking lot collision might not seem like a big deal, charges are still possible. However, the penalties are unlikely to be as serious as they would be if the driver failed to help someone who suffered severe injuries.
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What Are the Penalties for a Hit and Run Conviction in Alabama?
Hit and run charges are either a Class C felony or a Class A misdemeanor. In general, the driver would face felony charges if another party suffered injuries in the crash.
According to Ala. Code § 13A-5-6, the penalties for a Class C felony range from:
- One year and one day in prison to ten years behind bars
- A fine of up to $15,000
The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $6,000
The sentence a person receives depends significantly on what happened. For example, leaving the accident scene that caused relatively minor injuries would likely not be judged as severely as a hit and run in a fatal collision. Likewise, hitting an unoccupied, parked car may draw less severe penalties than hitting an occupied vehicle and not stopping to check on the people inside.
Why do Drivers Leave the Scene of an Accident?
There are many reasons why someone might flee from the scene of an accident. However, it generally boils down to not wanting to get into trouble for something else.
Common reasons why drivers commit hit and runs include:
- They have been drinking or using drugs
- They do not have a license
- Their license is suspended
- They have an active warrant
- They have unpaid traffic tickets or other citations
- They have drugs, firearms, or other illegal items in the car
- They do not have the required insurance
- They are an undocumented immigrant
- The vehicle was stolen
- They are worried about getting in trouble with their employer or the car’s owner.
In many cases, the penalties they could face for fleeing the scene after an injury accident are much more severe than the consequences associated with the reason they left. For example, they are unlikely to face serious felony charges for unpaid traffic tickets.
Building a Civil Case Against a Hit and Run Driver
In many hit and run cases, the police, the victim’s insurer, or a car accident lawyer can identify the driver who fled the scene. This may be possible using evidence including:
- Eyewitness statements
- Surveillance or dashcam footage
- An accident scene survey
- Asking the media to spread the word
Once the driver is identified, they will likely face a criminal and civil case. The victim can file an insurance claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for:
- Medical care
- Future treatment and support
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
If the police or another party does not identify the hit and run driver, the victims may need to rely on other policies to cover their costs. This could include uninsured motorist coverage, health insurance, and collision policies.
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Let Morris Bart & Associates, LLC Evaluate Your Alabama Hit and Run Claim Today
The Morris Bart law office provides complimentary case reviews for victims of hit and run accidents in our service area. We can assess your case and help you determine the best way to pursue compensation in your claim. We have 15 locations across four states, serving clients in all parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. In addition, we have four offices in Alabama: Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery.
Call (800) 537-8185 today to speak with a lawyer about your case.
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