Hit and Run Not a Felony?
Today I got in a car accident. The guy that hit me fled the scene, so I chased him and was able to give the police enough information to catch him.
However the police informed me that in North Carolina, since I didn't have to go to the hospital, he only received a ticket for the hit and run. Now I'm experiencing back problems.
If I go to the hospital will he get a hit and run felony charge?
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ANSWER for "Hit and Run Not a Felony?":
Kimberly (Newport, NC):
It’s always possible for the police to change their mind, but they probably won’t. In the State of North Carolina the hospitalization of a victim in a vehicular collision is not a prerequisite for the crime of “Hit and Run".
To qualify as a criminal act, the victim of a vehicular collision must have suffered serious bodily injury “at or about the time of the collision”. In your case it is probably too late to establish your injuries, if any, occurred at, or about the time of the collision.
Although you probably can’t rely on a hit and run felony charge, it isn’t too late for you to pursue the at-fault driver for the personal injuries you may have suffered.
If, after visiting with your doctor, you find you have suffered personal injuries which will require medical treatment, out of pocket expenses, or lost wages, you may then have the basis of a civil claim or lawsuit against the driver.
If you don’t already know the name and address of the driver, go to the police station and pick up a copy of the traffic citation issued to him.
Contact the driver and tell him about your injuries and the need for medical treatment. Ask him to turn the matter over to his insurance company. At the same time contact your own car insurance company. Tell them exactly what happened.
If for any reason the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured at the time of the collision, and you have underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance coverage, you may be able to recover the cost of your medical treatment and closely related expenses.
If the driver ignores your letter there is always the possibility of filing a Small Claims lawsuit against him.
If though, your injuries turn out to be not much more than some sprains, you might give serious thought to whether you are ready to go through all of the paperwork, stress, and time it normally takes in one of these personal injury claims.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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