Arizona Hit-and-Run Accidents: Here’s What to Do If You’re In One

Whatever you do, don’t move. And definitely DO NOT leave the scene. If there’s one message to take away from this article discussing the most frequently asked questions about hit-and-run accidents, it’s that!

Hit-and-run accidents are a serious offense not to be taken lightly. In 2021, the Arizona Department of Transportation reports that there were 16,988 hit-and-run accidents that claimed the lives of 90 people and injured another 3,802. 

What constitutes a hit-and-run accident? A hit-and-run accident is when a driver hits another car, person, or piece of property and fails to remain at the scene in order to exchange personal information. In Arizona, if you’re involved in an accident and decide to flee, you could be subject to criminal charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the severity of the accident. The following questions cover Arizona laws that apply in this situation, what to do if you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident as well as ways to further protect yourself in the future. 

What Are the Penalties for Hit-and-Run Accidents in Arizona?

Unfortunately, due to a large number of people relocating to Arizona, the rate of hit-and-run accidents is on the rise. The legal consequences of a hit-and-run will depend on how severe the accident was. A hit-and-run charge will likely only be a misdemeanor if the accident resulted in minor damage. On the other hand, if the accident involved significant damage or injuries, it would almost certainly be a felony.

Here’s a closer look at how Arizona classifies hit-and-run accidents:

  • If there’s property damage only, it could be classified as a misdemeanor, punishable up to 30 days in jail, one year of probation and a $500 fine. 
  • If there’s damage to a vehicle, it could increase to four months in jail, two years of probation and a $750 fine. 
  • If the accident results in an injury, the penalty depends on the severity of the injury or whether there is a fatality. Minor injuries typically result in a Class 5 felony, up to 2.5 years in prison and a revoked license for three years. If the injuries are severe or fatal, it could become a Class 3 felony with up to 8.75 years in prison and a 5-year driver’s license revocation. 

What You Should Do If You’re the Victim of a Hit-and-Run?

While it may be tempting to go after the driver if you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident, don’t ever do this. Instead, stop your car and call 911 immediately. Give them as much information as you can, such as:

  • Your location
  • The color and model of the fleeing vehicle
  • The vehicle’s license plate number
  • The direction the driver was going
  • A description of the driver so the police can attempt to locate them

What to Do Next? How to Seek Appropriate Compensation

Once it’s safe to do so, you should contact your insurance company to file a claim. You have a few options for seeking compensation. The first is through your auto insurance policy’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Because Arizona is a no-fault state, your insurance provider must cover at least a portion of your injury expenses, regardless of who caused the accident.

Normally when you’re involved in an accident, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will cover the ensuing expenses but if the other driver can’t be located, things get complicated. This is when having optional coverage that can help cover damages is worth it. For example:

  • Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage: provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by you or the passengers in your vehicle as a result of an accident involving an uninsured driver or a driver who can’t be located. You can tailor your coverage to have higher limits to protect yourself. Some umbrella policies also provide UM coverage. 

If you’ve been injured due to a hit-and-run accident, you may be entitled to compensation. We can help you understand your recovery options and take legal action based on what has happened. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today