Hit and run is one of those things that just seems completely inconceivable. Who would cause an accident and just keep on going? Everyone was taught early during driver training that when you’re involved in a fender bender you stop and exchange contact and insurance information at a minimum.
When you’re dealing with semi truck accidents, there are more factors at play in a hit and run than just not knowing any better. These are experienced drivers who operate vehicles weighing tens of thousands of pounds for a living. They know the rules of the road and accident procedure is part of what they are taught when earning their commercial driver’s license (CDL) so leaving the scene of an accident is going to be almost always deliberate.
What are the reasons for hit and run truck accidents?
The reasons a truck driver might flee the scene of an accident become very important if it’s obvious that the trucker is at fault. It’s possible that due to the sheer size of the vehicle a driver might not feel a minor crash such as backing up into another vehicle or a major event like backing over a pedestrian the driver couldn’t see. However, it largely boils down to fear of the consequences when a driver knows without a doubt that they’re responsible.
Some of the reasons for this are that:
- Maybe the driver has a history of reckless driving and has been warned by his or her company that one more mishap will result in job loss.
- The driver may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the accident occurred, which could end in an arrest or a wrongful death claim if the crash was serious enough.
- The driver was operating the truck uninsured after letting his or her policy lapse.
- The driver didn’t possess the correct warning placards or endorsements for the cargo being hauled, which could mean steep fines and a 90-day license suspension.
- A driver was texting or engaging in some other activity that took his or her attention off the road, which led to the accident.
- Federal regulations were violated by not abiding by the hours of service requirements and the driver fell asleep at the wheel because he or she failed to take the breaks mandated by law.
Commercial truckers depend on maintaining their CDL to earn a livelihood, and they may even be the sole provider of their family. Facing a loss of that income for any amount of time can be a risk they literally feel they can’t afford, which means you could end up on the receiving end of injuries and a large financial loss yourself.
What are the penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident?
Alabama Code Title 32 Chapter 10 requires that anyone, including commercial truck drivers, who was involved in a motor vehicle accident has a duty to remain at the scene until the involved parties have exchanged their names, addresses, driver’s license and correct contact information, and insurance information, or in the alternative, have provided all this information to the law enforcement agency on scene.
If an injury is involved, reasonable assistance must be provided by calling for emergency medical services and the accident must be reported to law enforcement. A failure to do this by fleeing the scene of the accident is criminal behavior that can mean:
- Being charged with a Class A misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to one year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $6,000 when no injuries were involved.
- Being charged with a Class C felony carrying a sentence of 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $15,000 if an injury or death were involved.
Additional penalties you are certain to face include:
- License revocation
- Court costs
- Civil suits
Protecting yourself after a hit and run
If you became the victim of a trucker who left the scene of the accident, regardless of the reason, you need to do whatever you can to protect yourself by helping to provide information that can be used to locate the reckless driver by:
- Reporting the accident to police immediately so they can be dispatched to the scene and begin taking statements and securing the crash site.
- Requesting an ambulance if you cannot get yourself to an emergency room.
- Getting the names and contact information of any witnesses who stopped.
- Writing down any information about how the accident occurred, damage you and your vehicle or other vehicles sustained, identifying details you remember such as license plate numbers, company names or logos, truck type, phone numbers on the cab, color of the cab and any writing on the trailer, and a description of driver if you saw him or her.
Seek legal help immediately after reporting the accident and obtaining medical help. There are steps an attorney can take to obtain other evidence such as traffic cam video or other camera footage in the area to help identify the company and driver.
Any motor vehicle accident involving a driver who flees the scene automatically becomes more complicated. The dedicated personal injury lawyers at Martin & Helms want to help you find and hold accountable the driver or company responsible for negligently harming you. We protect clients who have been injured in North Alabama truck accidents including in Huntsville, Decatur, Athens, and Madison.
To schedule your free consultation in our Huntsville or Decatur office today, call 256.539.1990 or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form to briefly tell us your story. Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so there is no cost to you unless we win your case.