Whether an accident was caused by your negligent behavior or environmental causes, crashing into another vehicle is not a cause for arrest in and of itself. However, your actions after the crash are the direct determinants of whether you may face jail time. Additionally, specific consequences of the car accident, such as wrongful death or severe injuries, could influence the likelihood of whether you might go to jail or not. To learn more about potential causes for jail time after a fender bender, see the details below.
Potential Consequences of a Fender Bender Accident
The only case in which a driver may be punished with jail time after a fender bender car accident is if they leave the scene of the incident before exchanging information with the other affected parties. Not only is it indecent to leave victims with no information after colliding into their vehicle, but it is illegal and punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony. (Legally, prematurely leaving a crash scene is only defensible if you need to seek emergency medical treatment.)
Misdemeanor charges for hit and run fender benders can amount to a $1,000 fine, in addition to the compensation granted to the victim’s damages. The guilty driver can also be jailed for up to 6 months. Accidents that qualify as misdemeanors entail only minor property damage, such as repairable damages to another vehicle.
Further, drivers that commit hit and run offenses will inevitably earn a criminal record, even if they are not jailed for the offense. Misdemeanor hit and run convictions will also add two points to your driving record. If you exceed these two points within a single year, you could lose your driving privileges by the suspension or revocation of your license.
This could severely impact any professional driving opportunities. So, those who intend to work as a ride-share driver, a commercial truck driver, or similar professions have more on the line when choosing to leave the accident scene prematurely.
What to Do if You Have Been in a Fender Bender Car Accident
If you were the cause of a fender bender car accident, you must find a safe place to stop and exchange information with the victim. If they are not present at the time, then leave a note with your contact information on it. Once you have offered your information, you are required to contact your insurance company and notify them of the incident as soon as possible. (This is true even if you are the victim. Failure to inform your insurer of the crash could disqualify you from coverage, leaving you responsible for covering the costs on your own.)
Be aware of your state’s requirements concerning accident reporting, as each state imposes a timeline in which the accident must be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the police. Accidents that qualify for these reporting requirements are those that exceed $1,000 in damages.
Lastly, you need to get in contact with a car accident lawyer. Whether you are at-fault or the victim, an experienced car accident lawyer can help protect your rights after a fender bender incident by either reducing the charges you face or recovering compensation for the incurred damages. Contact a car accident lawyer today to learn how they can help support your case.