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Leaving the Scene of an Accident

According to Pennsylvania law, when an automobile accident involves death or personal injury, the driver can be charged with a criminal offense if they do not immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident and remain until they have fulfilled their statutorily required obligations. Under Pennsylvania law, the driver involved in an accident has the obligation to give information and render aid; they also must stop their vehicle so as not to obstruct traffic more than necessary.

Even if no one is injured, the driver is still required to remain at the scene if any damage occurs to an attended vehicle. Leaving the scene of property damage to another attended vehicle can be charged as a third-degree felony.

Hit and Run Defense Attorney in West Chester, PA

Contact the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged hit and run in Pennsylvania. Attorney Michael J. Skinner is knowledgeable and experienced with Pennsylvania’s traffic laws and will make every effort to help you achieve the best possible outcome for the charges against you. Call or send an online message today if you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident. 

With offices in West Chester in Chester County and Media in Delaware County, Michael Skinner is ready to begin your defense today. Call to speak directly with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the best ways to protect your rights and resolve the case under the best possible terms.


Hit and Run with Only Property Damage to an Attended Vehicle

The vast majority of hit and run cases involve only property damage of an attended vehicle or an unattended vehicle or other property. These hit and run offenses for leaving the scene are prosecuted as a misdemeanor.  If you are driving a vehicle and crash into another vehicle or property which results in damage to the other vehicle or property, then you must stop at the scene, provide certain information, and render aid to any injured person.

If you leave the scene without fulfilling these duties, then you can be charged with “hit and run” under section 3743 and 3744 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. According to subsection (b) of section 3743, the charge of hit and run is a misdemeanor of the third degree.

The elements of "hit and run" under Section 3743 include proof beyond any reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  1. The defendant was driving a vehicle that he or she knew or should have known was involved in an accident that resulted only in damage to a vehicle or other property that was driven or attended by any person; and
  2. The defendant violated a duty to:
  • to stop and remain at the scene of the accident; and
  • to give information and render aid to the injured person.

Under Pennsylvania's statute for hit and run, after a crash with an attended vehicle, the driver has a duty to stop his or her vehicle immediately at the scene of the accident while obstructing traffic as little as possible, or as close to the scene as possible. The law also provides that the driver must remain at the scene until he or she performs the second duty which is to give information and render aid.

The driver’s duty to give information requires the driver to give his name, address and the registration number of the vehicle. Upon request, the driver must present additional information such as his driver's license and proof of insurance.

In the event that the driver or person attending to the driver is not in the condition to receive the information that the driver is required to give, then the driver must give the information to any police officer that is present. If no police officer is present under those circumstances, then the driver must still do the following:

  1. stop and remain at the scene;
  2. provide information and render aid (as much as possible);
  3. report the accident to the nearest office of a duly authorized police department;
  4. submit to the department the information previously described pertaining to the duty to provide information.

Definition of Serious Bodily Injury under Pennsylvania Law

The term "serious bodily injury" is defined under Pennsylvania law as any bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or causes permanent or serious disfigurement or protracted impairment or loss of the function of any organ or bodily member.

In many of these cases, an issue arises as to whether the person injured actually suffered serious bodily injury or just suffered a minor injury. In some cases, the other person only suffers a small cut and scar, or a fractured bone, or soft tissue damage. Because of a pending personal injury cases, the person injured often has reason to exaggerate the damages during the pending civil lawsuit for money damages.

Your attorney can help you understand how Pennsylvania law defines this term and how the definition might impact how your case is ultimately resolved.


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Penalties for Leaving the Scene in Pennsylvania with Personal Injury

According to 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3742, the offense of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death or Personal Injury can result in a conviction of a misdemeanor of the first degree. This offense can be punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment for five years and/or a fine not more than $10,000.

The alleged offender can be charged with a felony of the third degree if the victim suffers serious bodily injury. This offense can result in a minimum term of imprisonment for 90 days and a maximum of seven years imprisonment. Additionally, a convicted offender can be charged with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, and a maximum not exceeding $15,000.

If the victim dies, the alleged offender can be charged with a felony of the third degree with a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than one year and a maximum of seven years in prison. A convicted offender can additionally face a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500, but not more than $15,000.


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Pennsylvania Statutory Requirements to Give and Render Aid

Under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3744, the driver involved in an accident has the obligation to give information and render aid if property damage occurs, or any person is injured or dies as a result of the accident. The driver must stop and give the following to the other driver, anyone injured in the crash, or any law enforcement officer investigating the crash:


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Related Hit and Run Traffic Offenses

Homicide by Vehicle, under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 373, results from causing the death of another person due to reckless driving or gross negligence. A conviction for this offense can result in a felony of the third degree.

There is no statute of limitations for certain traffic offenses, which means there is no time limit for when the alleged offender can be charged, and can be charged several years after committing the criminal act. These traffic offenses include accidents involving death or personal injury under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3742, and homicide by vehicle under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3732 if the accident resulted in the death of another person.


Failure to Stop Offenses in Chester County, PA

Under Section 3742(a), the following offenses can be charged: 


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Working with a Defense Attorney After Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a consultation about allegedly leaving the scene of an accident in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas of Delaware County. Whether the hit and run case can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, Michael J. Skinner will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious repercussions and consequences for the allegations against you.

If you were charged with hit and run resulting in damage to another vehicle or other property then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Skinner Law Firm. We represent clients charged with hit and run throughout Chester County including West Chester, PA. We also represent clients in the City of Chester, the borough of Media, and the surrounding areas of Delaware County, PA. Call us to discuss any criminal violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.

Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged traffic crime.

This article was last updated on Friday, December 11, 2015.

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