Hit and Run: Property Damage

Published: 07th June 2006
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Hit and Run: Property Damage





Hit and run is generally defined as a criminal act. Where the collision is with property only, such as another vehicle with no occupants, the driver must leave information attached to the damaged property, as well as make a report to the police. These duties do not implicate the driver in terms of being responsible for the accident. Whether the driver caused the accident or whether it was caused by another person's negligence, the duty to stop and report the damage to the owner of the property is required. If the driver willfully fails to perform these legally required duties, they are guilty of the crime of hit and run



Where there has been an accident involving property, such as a structure, another vehicle, motorcycle, etc., there are legally mandated duties to stop, give information, and report the incident to a law enforcement agency.



Property damage hit and run is governed by California Vehicle Code Section 20002 which mandates that the driver immediately stop their vehicle at the nearest safe location, locate the owner of the damaged property, or leave the information in a conspicuous place and inform the local law enforcement agency of the incident.



When the owner or person in charge of the damaged property is located, the driver must notify them of the driver's name and address and the owner of the vehicle involved. Where the damaged property is another vehicle, the driver must also show their driver's license and vehicle registration, if requested to do so. In addition, the driver must present the current residence address of the driver and the current residence address of the vehicle's owner, if applicable.



Where the owner or person in charge of the damaged property cannot be located, then the driver must leave a written notice of the aforementioned information in a conspicuous place and promptly notify the local police department or CHP office, if the area in which the collision occurred is in an unincorporated area.



Defenses



Some hit and run cases are not clear cut, and not easy to determine. For example, it may not be a clear case of hit and run where a driver has an accident near his home, doesn't stop, but instead parks his car at home and walks back to the accident scene.



Another situation may be that the driver did not realize that an accident had occurred and drives away. If the person was not aware, and it is not reasonable that they should have been, then it is not a case of hit and run. Some factors that may come into play here include weather conditions and road hazards.




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