Alabama Hit-and-Run Laws
Posted in Uncategorized on November 15, 2019
Hitting a person or vehicle while driving and running away from the scene is unethical and illegal in the state of Alabama. Unfortunately, it is also a relatively common crime. A driver may commit a hit-and-run to get out of paying for a victim’s damages or to avoid criminal charges if the driver was breaking a law such as Alabama’s drunk driving statute. As the victim of a hit-and-run, it is important to know your rights and legal options under Alabama’s related laws. A Birmingham hit-and-run accident attorney could help you navigate all of the state’s hit-and-run laws as a victim with serious injuries.
Driver Duties of Care After an Accident
Most states have some version of a hit-and-run law in their traffic rules or civil codes. Alabama Code section 32-10-2 contains the state’s main hit-and-run law, which expresses a driver’s duties of care after getting involved in an accident. It states that any driver involved in a crash that causes personal injuries, wrongful deaths or vehicle damages must stop at the scene of the accident and give certain information to the other driver involved. If the other driver is not present, the driver must leave the information in a note in a conspicuous location.
- Vehicle registration number
- Driver’s license, upon request
- Insurance information
The driver also has a legal obligation to render reasonable assistance to anyone in need of it at the crash site, such as injured parties. This duty may require calling the police or transporting the injured person to the hospital, if necessary. If any driver goes against Alabama’s hit-and-run law by fleeing the scene without fulfilling his or her duties of care, he or she has committed a crime and could face penalties.
Criminal Hit-and-Run Laws
On top of Alabama’s civil law requiring drivers to stop is another hit-and-run law in the state’s criminal code. Title 32 Chapter 10 makes hit-and-run a crime, punishable with fines and/or jail time depending on the situation.
- Striking an unattended or unattended vehicle. Class A misdemeanor. Maximum one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $6,000.
- Injuring or killing a person. Class C felony. Imprisonment of 366 days to 10 years and/or fines of up to $15,000.
The police may be able to identify the person guilty of a hit-and-run through interviewing eyewitnesses, gathering surveillance footage, inspecting the scene of the accident and/or publicizing the accident to request more information. On top of criminal penalties, the driver could also be civilly liable for victims’ damages.
Accident Reporting Requirements
Another duty of care a driver in Alabama has after getting into an accident is to call the police to report the crash if it caused personal injuries or deaths. Failing to report a serious crash to the police could meet the definition of hit-and-run, even if the driver stopped and rendered other assistance. Failing to call the police could lead to legal penalties for not meeting all the responsibilities of a driver. If the crash caused injuries, deaths or more than $500 in property damages, the driver must also submit an SR-31 form to the Department of Public Safety within 30 days of the hit-and-run. If you called the police in Alabama, they may file the SR-31 form on your behalf.
Hit-and-Run Insurance Laws
As the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may still be able to secure compensation for your losses if you have the right type of insurance. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, collision insurance and comprehensive coverage could pay for hit-and-run accident losses regardless of who was at fault. The state’s minimum required insurance amounts, however, do not include these types of coverage. You should contact a Birmingham car accident lawyer to learn more about the coverage you have.
If you refused this coverage and only carry the minimum, your insurance company may not accept your hit-and-run damage claim. You may then have to pay for your losses out of pocket or seek restitution from another at-fault party. If, however, you agreed to retain one of these coverage types when purchasing your policy, your insurer will cover property damages and medical bills up to your policy’s limits. File a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible to ensure a valid case.