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Hit and Run

A hit and run accident means that someone has been involved in a collision with another car, a pedestrian, or an object and has left the scene without offering possible aid or identifying him- or herself. In other words, the person “ran away.” Leaving the scene of an accident in that way can be a felony crime or misdemeanor, mostly depending upon whether the person who left the scene also left behind someone who was injured. An accident in which a person leaves to get emergency help and then returns to the scene is not considered a hit and run in most states.


A felony hit and run is a serious crime in all 50 states, although the penalties may vary. Fines may range from $5,000 to $20,000, and jail time, depending on injuries and the circumstances of the collision, can be as long as 15 years. Even if the hit and run is defined as a misdemeanor, the fee may be as high as $5,000 in most states and jail time as long as one year.

Fines and jail time, however, maybe the biggest, but not the only, problems for those convicted of leaving the scene of an accident. Most all states also impose penalties concerning a person’s driver’s license, which may be suspended for six months or longer. In some severe cases, the convicted driver may lose his or her license permanently. In addition, a lawsuit may follow from the injured party or parties to be compensated for medical bills and other damages. Such a lawsuit may occur after any auto accident, but the penalties are bound to be more severe if a hit and run charge is added. It is not unusual, for instance, for a judge to triple the award money in a hit and run case, and most insurance policies do not cover those kinds of charges.

A person sent to jail on a hit and run charge is usually eligible for bail. The states set the bail amounts, which vary greatly due to circumstances but usually involve large sums of money. At this point, the charged person may call on a bail bondsman to get out of jail. The bondsman’s bail bond is a guarantee that a specified amount of money will be paid to the court if the defendant does not return to court on the ordered date.

To defray the possibility that the defendant will not appear in court, the bondsman charges the defendant, or whoever buys the bond, a percentage, usually about 10%, of the total cash amount of the bond. If the defendant, however, does not show up on the appointed date, in many states the bondsman (or woman) has the right to become a so-called bounty hunter and track down the person and bring him or her to court.

A bail bondsman is often an important figure in any serious auto accident, such as a hit and run. Most defendants do not have on hand the amount of money that may be involved and may not have the means to produce it quickly. Speed is also a necessary skill of the successful bondsman.

Whatever the charges and whoever is involved, a hit and run accident is a very serious crime in all 50 states. Panic may set in, but common sense and good advice dictate: Never leave the scene of an accident, no matter who is at fault.


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