Fear can be a powerful motivator, especially after a car accident. Even if your actions did not lead to the crash or contribute to it, you may feel compelled not to be around when police arrive.
The problem with that is that it is against the law. Under Florida law, all parties must remain at the scene of an accident until or unless released by police. However, as is the case with any law, there could be circumstances under which you do not need to remain at the scene.
When you might be able to leave
The reasons you may be able to leave the scene before police arrive include the following:
- No one suffered any injuries.
- No property damage occurred.
- No one died.
If any injuries, deaths or property damage occurs, you must remain at the scene. Moreover, you have additional responsibilities as well:
- Check on everyone involved.
- Call 911, report the accident to police and request emergency medical assistance.
- Provide basic first aid if you know how.
- Locate and talk to witnesses.
- Exchange insurance and other information with the other party or parties.
- Call your insurance company.
- If applicable, call the other driver’s insurance company.
You should attempt to perform these duties, but if you can’t due to an injury or some other circumstance that precludes you from doing so, wait for emergency personnel. If you aren’t sure how to help someone with an injury, calling 911 should remain the priority.
What happens if you leave the scene illegally
If you were to leave the scene of the accident without legal justification, you could face charges for hit and run. The facts of your case will determine what happens next. At the very least, you could receive a citation, but if there were injuries or a death, the penalties can become more severe. Hopefully, you will decide to remain on scene regardless of whatever reason you may want to leave.
You have rights, and you may exercise them when you remain at the scene. You may have to answer basic questions posed by police, but you are not required to incriminate yourself. If you are in an accident and believe that you could face some sort of criminal charges as a result, exercise your right to remain silent and to speak with an attorney.