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Amazebyu's avatar

Somebody reported me as a hit and run. What to do?

Asked by Amazebyu (488 points ) October 8th, 2010 from iPhone

Last august I was driving on the freeway in LA. It was bumper to bumper the traffic wasn’t moving much and when it barely started moving the car in front of me braked and so did I but I did hit his bumper. Although nothing happen to the other car (an late 90s corolla) I did pull over to check my car fender. The other car kept driving, he didn’t seem to have any intention to stop. So since nothing happen to my car either. I decided to get back on the road. Apparently somebody saw me taking off and called the highway and report a hit and run. Now I got a paper over the mail and I have to call and explain the exact same thing. Also, according to the letter I received there was no report from the car I hit. Only the person who saw me leaving after pulling over. Any ideas what’s to expect?

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13 Answers

Austinlad's avatar

If it were I, I’d write down the facts in as much detail as possible. I’d put it in “bullet” or outline form so that you don’t get bogged down in unnecessary, emotional promse. Then I’d do what the letter says and do it it fast. I’d read from my notes rather than try to say it off the top of my head.

Chances are, this will go away if you do what you’re being asked to do.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Maybe talk to a traffic attorney?

Cruiser's avatar

Check with your insurance to see what if any your collision coverage might take care of.

Rarebear's avatar

You need a lawyer.

diavolobella's avatar

Don’t jump the gun. You do not need a lawyer at this point. In fact, if you lawyer up right now, it’s going to look like you have something to hide or at the least, are taking an unnecessarily adversarial position. Answer the query just as you did here and wait to see the response you receive. If they drop it, good (I think they will since you did not drive away, the person you hit did. Obviously, if they had not driven away first you could not have driven through their car and if you drove around them while they were still sitting there, they would have turned you in themselves).

If they do not drop the matter then get an attorney.

My feeling is that the person you hit was uninsured.

Amazebyu's avatar

@diavolobella yeah, that’s what I had in mind. I don’t think at this point a lawer is necessary. Nothing mayor happened and my guess is that the other person didn’t have insurance. He didn’t even make eye contact at one point when I changed lanes to pull over. Thanks :)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Who sent “the paper over the mail” and what is it, exactly?

If it’s a citation, then you may need to go to court to have a hearing on the matter. (And if you go to court and the complaining party doesn’t show up, then the whole thing should be thrown out of court.)

Otherwise, the advice so far is good, especially that from @Austinlad I think: have your facts bulleted and DO NOT get emotional about this. Even if you’re found guilty somehow, keep in mind that you did hit (when you rear-end someone it is always your fault for following too closely and failing to stop in time) and you did ‘run’, without making your own report to the police. So if you state all of the facts, that there was actual contact and there was no call to the police, you could be found guilty (and you would be incriminating yourself) even without any other testimony. Don’t incriminate yourself.

I would hedge the statement that you make: say that “you thought” there was contact, and that’s why you stopped to look at your vehicle. (It’s not lying to say that you “thought” there was contact. If you slam into him at 90 mph then “I think” there would be contact.) When you stopped (and I presume traffic still wasn’t moving fast), you could see that there was no evidence of collision on the vehicle in front (if that’s true) and no evidence on your vehicle, either (if that’s true).

At that point, and without the driver or owner of the struck vehicle coming forward, you should be in the clear. No one else witnessed “the event” except you and the vehicle in front of you, and the one who complained just saw what “he thought” was a hit-and-run. (And he was doing a good thing, himself, in reporting that. So if he does appear, then it would not be amiss to congratulate him for being a good citizen in reporting… and then showing up in court to follow through.) But if he wasn’t hit or didn’t see an actual collision, then his testimony after that is worthless.

perspicacious's avatar

Yeah, I expect the person who made the report is going to say you hit him. Have an attorney on standby.

Jabe73's avatar

I’m surprised this idiot didn’t have nothing better to do with their time (the one that reported you). I’m not sure if you would get in trouble since the other driver just kept on going. I’m not sure what you could have reported to the police in this situation either. Like said above I would get a lawyer.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

This comes from John, a policeman and fellow Jelly.
In order for an accident to be a hit and run, one or the other party has to call the police, not a passerby. explain that you did stop to talk to the other driver, but he left the scene. since there was minor or no damage and the other driver left the scene, then so did you. the other unknown driver is guilty or hit and run, not you. the other driver apparently did not have a drivers license or was wanted. this may be the reason he left the scene. he also could have been an unregistered immigrant with out a green card. if neither one of the involved drivers want to file a police report, this is okay with the police. what i have just told you, for the most part, you can include in your report to the Highway Patrol. they will rely on the information you give them, since the other driver left the scene and he did not file a complaint. let me know how it turns out. hope this helps. john

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I hate to disagree with cops (though I find myself doing it all the time) but I have to say that the driver (in this case) who was hit is not ‘guilty of hit-and-run’. If you’re involved in a minor accident with no pedestrian or passenger injury and insignificant vehicular damage (for most states I think the level of damage I’ve seen in Driver License Manuals is about $300 before a police report must be filed), then it’s optional whether you need to report it or not.

In fact, pedestrians are often involved in minor brushes with moving vehicles, and when they pick themselves up and walk away without getting involved with the driver (often because they themselves were ‘guilty’ of jaywalking or being inattentive), then the driver can leave as well. The pedestrian surely isn’t “guilty” of a hit-and-run accident, and if he chooses to walk away from it, then there’s no reason for the driver to stay, either.

Any driver in traffic who is rear-ended knows that he’s not at fault. It’s as near to a universal truth as there is in driving: The driver of the car who hits you from behind is the guilty party. So if he feels nothing more than a minor bump and knows there’s nothing to worry about with his car (and the other one), then he’s free to leave the scene.

I don’t think there’s any particular problem with the other driver: I don’t suppose he was drunk, illegally in the country, driving without a license, fleeing an earlier crime or had any other particular problems with wants and warrants—he just wanted to get home in his beater (aren’t most cars from the 90s now ‘beaters’?)—or get to work on time, because we don’t all work the same hours—and didn’t care about another scratch or crease on a worn bumper. Who wants to pull over to the side of the road when the traffic is bumper-to-bumper and it takes minutes to move a few feet?

diavolobella's avatar

In some states, leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor, whether you were the person who was hit or the person who did the hitting. It usually depends upon whether or not there were injuries involved. Here is a website with hit and run information for CA.

http://www.deadlyroads.com/laws/california-hit-and-run-laws.shtml

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