Is a Hit-and-Run a Felony in Nevada?
A hit-and-run accident is not necessarily a felony in Nevada. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in Nevada. However, whether a driver is charged with a felony or misdemeanor depends on the circumstances of the accident.
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident is when a motor vehicle strikes another vehicle, person, or object and leaves the scene without giving any information. By Nevada State Law, every driver has the following obligations:
- Stop at the scene of the crash
- If the circumstances call for it, move the vehicle off the road to avoid causing more collisions
- Give contact and insurance information to everyone involved in the collision
If a driver hits a parked and unattended car, they still have a duty to provide their information via a note or similar. In addition, they must report the accident to the local authorities. Otherwise, it may be considered a hit-and-run.
Are Hit-and-Run Accidents Common?
Hit-and-run accidents are very common in Nevada. According to a study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Nevada has the fourth-highest rate of fatal hit-and-runs in the country.
The problem continues to increase nationwide. Research shows that hit-and-run accidents have increased an average of 7.2% every year since 2006. In addition:
- Every 43 seconds, someone is involved in a hit-and-run collision
- Over 680,000 hit-and-run accidents occur each year
- 65% of fatal hit-and-run crashes involve pedestrians or bicyclists
- 4.6 out of every 10,000 drivers have at least one hit-and-run violation
When a motorist is involved in any type of car accident, they have specific legal obligations to satisfy.
Do I Have Any Legal Duties After a Traffic Accident?
After a traffic accident, motorists have several legal duties. It is important that all Nevada drivers are familiar with the required steps after a car accident:
- All parties involved in a motor vehicle accident are required to stop immediately whether or not they caused the accident
- Contact the local authorities and report the accident
- Depending on everyone’s injuries, move cars out of the way of traffic to a safe space off the road
- Reasonably help others at the scene
- Every driver is obligated to exchange information, including:
- Phone numbers
- Car make, model, and year
- License plate numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- Insurance policy company, policy number, and contact information
- In most cases, drivers are required to report the traffic accident to the DMV
- Generally, car insurance policies require motorists to report any motor vehicle accident
The above steps are expected to be followed in minor collisions where the injuries are not debilitating. In cases where accident victims are seriously hurt, or a vehicle occupant has died, waiting for medical attention will not result in any penalties.
When is a Hit-and-Run Considered a Felony?
A hit-and-run accident is considered a felony when a person has been injured or died. Nevada law takes into account the damage a hit-and-run accident causes before subjecting drivers to a felony charge or misdemeanor.
Hit-and-run penalties are as follows:
- Misdemeanor: It is a criminal offense for a motorist to leave the scene of an accident after hitting another car or fixed object. It is considered a misdemeanor when the collision causes property damage.
- Felony: When a motorist flees the scene of an accident when someone has suffered bodily harm or death, they will be charged with a felony.
Most car accidents involve more than the driver. In many cases, one or both vehicles have occupants. A hit-and-run driver can be charged with a separate felony for each person hurt or killed in the accident.
What Are Some Recent Examples of Hit-and-Run Accidents in Nevada?
In the last few months, Nevada’s news stations have been overwhelmed by the number of reported hit-and-run accidents:
- On March 17th in Las Vegas, an unknown suspect in a white sedan struck and killed someone near Cameron Street.
- In Las Vegas, a motorist drove onto the sidewalk and hit two sleeping people on March 14th. One succumbed to their injuries two days later.
- On March 13th, two unknown suspects in a stolen black pickup truck caused a collision in Las Vegas. Thankfully, no one was injured.
- A Nevada County woman hit a pedestrian and fled the scene on February 22nd. The pedestrian suffered major injuries and is currently recovering.
- A motorcyclist was left dead on February 4th after a woman fled the scene and parked her car at a restaurant and walked away.
Not every hit-and-run accident is reported by Nevada news stations. Generally, only the most severe collisions receive attention. Even then, the majority of hit-and-run cases remain unsolved.
According to multiple news sources all over the country:
In Las Vegas, Lt. Greg Munson took to Twitter to express his concerns over the mounting unsolved hit-and-run cases. Munson called the trend “alarming. 13 deadly hit-and-run crashes in our jurisdiction this year, 5 of them are currently unsolved.”
Why Do So Many Drivers Flee the Scene of a Car Accident?
Typically, hit-and-run drivers flee the scene of a car accident if they are engaging in other illegal activities. In other cases, they may have a criminal past.
Efforts across the country are being made to reduce hit-and-run collisions. Driver behavior is being studied to find similar motivators in the hopes of finding better ways to prevent hit-and-run accidents.
According to various studies put together by AAA:
- 40% of drivers who are caught fleeing admit it was an act of self-preservation
- 30% believed the collision was not serious enough to stop
- 15% of drivers stated they were unaware they hit another vehicle
- 13% admitted to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Hit-and-run drivers have a diverse range of motivations for leaving the scene of an accident. While not every hit-and-run accident is considered a felony, the consequences can still be severe.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident and need to know the best course of action to take, turn to the exceptional car accident attorneys of Gina Corena & Associates. Schedule a consultation to discuss the details of the accident and learn about the possible remedies our law offices can offer.